FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — On Saturday, the National Diversity Inclusion and Cannabis Alliance (NDICA), in partnership with Fresno County Public Defender’s, held an expungement clinic at Gaston Middle School.
Their mission, to help guide those in the community with criminal backgrounds get back on track.
“We all make mistakes in life,” says Nico Kiowa.
Kiowa is one of many who spent his Saturday filling out forms and talking with a Fresno County Public Defender.
“I have a few things on my record that I would like to get taken off or concealed that’s hindering me from getting better opportunities when my background is being questioned,” he explained.
NDICA in partnership with Fresno County Public Defender’s – who are not affiliated with the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office – are helping people clean up their criminal history – through Propositions 64 and 47 – both passed in 2016.
“Within prop 64 there’s an opportunity for us to restore people’s past criminal convictions by getting them reclassified or knocked off, which then opens them for housing opportunities and employment opportunities and so here in the County of Fresno we’re looking at tens of thousands of people who are potentially eligible for this process,” says JePaul White, the local chapter president of NDICA.
Carmen Romero, a Fresno County Public Defense Attorney, says two years ago their office received grants to provide free services at clinics like the one today.
“The way we work is that you apply to our program, we do the research to figure out what your criminal convictions are, what you’re eligible for, and then we prepare the petitions, they’re prepared what’s called in pro per, folks represent themselves, we don’t represent them in court if they end up going, we provide consultantship,” she explained.
For many, their convictions took place more than 10 years ago and want a chance at a better life.
Kiowa says he realizes he’s made mistakes but says it’s not who he is today.
“This is an opportunity for people to help you get on the right track to get that assistance and resources that you need to move forward,” he expressed.
The next clinic will be on Saturday, Feb. 29. The location has not been determined
For more information visit: www.thendica.org