REDEEMER Act will help give some Alabamians a second chance

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — A new ‘second chance’ bill will give some Alabamians a second chance.

Alabama will soon allow people with long-ago convictions for certain low level crimes to apply to have their records wiped clean.

Jessica Givens is an attorney at the Cochran Firm and what she enjoys most about practicing law is being confronted with different types of cases and constantly learning.

That’s why she was happy when she first heard about the REDEEMER Act. According to Givens, this will help people who have been convicted of certain crimes look for jobs and head back to school.

“It’s not something that is constantly hanging over their head or attaching some stigma to them that they don’t deserve so that they are able to move on, get the jobs they want and not have to constantly explain, ‘what happened what was this about,” Givens said.

The new bill was signed into law and would allow people with certain non-violent misdemeanors, municipal ordinances, and minor traffic offenses to apply to have their records expunged.

There are certain conditions that must be met. They include completing probation and paying all fines. It’s important to note that violent crimes, sex offenses, and major traffic convictions will not be eligible for expungement.

“The benefit of this is when you do make a mistake, there is actually a legal avenue for forgiveness,” Givens said.

Givens tells WDHN News this new bill will be a step in the right direction and will help many Alabamians but she hopes to see it one day be taken further to help even more people.

The granting of the expungement won’t be automatic. The bill will go into law starting in July and a judge will decide whether a conviction should be cleared.

The current Alabama Expungement Program allows people to apply only if the charge was dismissed or if they were found not guilty.

Givens said she believes everyone makes mistakes and it isn’t right to hold people to them for a lifetime.

“I think the whole point is we don’t want people to continue to get into criminal trouble because they do not have a pathway out of that lifestyle,” Givens said.

The REDEEMER Act will still allow prosecutors and other law enforcement officials to still have access to criminal records.

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