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Southern University Law Center hosts free expungement event for residents

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BATON ROUGE - Students and volunteers with the Southern University Law Center worked Saturday morning to help eligible residents file paperwork to expunge their criminal records. 

A person's criminal history, including any arrests or convictions, can follow them for years and build many roadblocks. 

Most states allow employers to deny jobs to anyone with a criminal record. The Southern University Law Center emphasizes the importance of getting a record clean to be able to apply for a job.

"It's extremely important for the workforce here in Louisiana, so people can go ahead and walk in a path and get the employment opportunities that they believe they deserve," Marla Dickerson with Southern University Law Center said. 

Anne Leblanc was among the crowd waiting for her turn to change her future. She is nearly six years sober and a cancer survivor. After battling cancer and getting clean she got a job at a cancer center as a nurse. She was let go due to her past arrest. 

"After putting in all the hard work and being sober and just trying to be a good person I deserve to have a clean record so I can go wherever in the world I want to," Leblanc said. 

Saturday's event was funded by the City-Parish. Organizers said law center employees act as attorneys for people in East Baton Rouge Parish, providing them with legal guidance for free—eliminating that burden of the cost and lifting a heavy weight off of many people's shoulders.

"I going to feel like a whole new person, like normal," Leblanc said. "Not having a monkey on my back, just the way it was meant to be."

In Louisiana, it can cost up to $550 in fees to get a criminal records wiped.

In the past two years, the Southern University Law Center has seen nearly 3,000 people and has had 300 expungements granted. 

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