Expungement Law Offers Second Chances to Thousands in Greenville: What Can We do?
On December 3, 2018, BSUMC partnered with JustFaith ministries to host the first educational event in South Carolina to discuss how a new law will impact some criminal offenders and allow them to remove certain criminal convictions from their records. The Greenville Chamber of Commerce made a huge effort at passing the law, as Greenville needs a larger labor pool. The Chamber asked the faith community to help with the implementation now that the law has passed.
This new law will provide a fresh start for tens of thousands of South Carolinians. In fact, one in four people in Greenville have a criminal record. These individuals will now have a better chance at securing gainful employment. The bill was backed by several prominent business groups, nonprofits, and civic groups. Although some people consider it a “get out of jail free card,” prison reformers say, this bill will allow those convicted of non-violent offenses, including first-time drug related and youthful offenses that occurred several years ago or even decades ago, to have those charges removed from their public records. BSUMC has seen how criminal offenders that we serve in Crisis Ministry and our congregation are impacted when they are unable to find gainful employment or housing due to their record.
Jerry Blassingame from Soteria spoke as well as Carlos Phillips, President of the Chamber, and Sean Dogan of Longbranch Baptist Church. They talked about how the law lives out our faith in God’s grace; however, it is also practical, as people who get out of jail and can’t get a job because of their record just end up back in the same lifestyle they were in before. Lawyers from SC Legal AID and Bread for the World led us in discussions in how churches can be involved in implementing this law.
JustFaith and BSUMC leadership are working to put these plans into action. You will hear more about this initiative as we move forward with our community partners.
by Judy Brown, BSUMC Downtown Campus