As part of Owensboro's upcoming Martin Luther King Day activities, several agencies will partner to host an expungement workshop.

Martin Luther King Day is supposed to be a time of giving back and volunteering, said the Rev. Rhondalyn Randolph, president of the Owensboro NAACP chapter.

"This is a way to have a viable impact on a person's life," Randolph said of the expungement clinic.

In Kentucky, charges and convictions stay on residents' criminal records. Expungement is the legal process required to erase those records.

The free workshop is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 18 at the H.L. Neblett Community Center, 801 W. Fifth St.

The Owensboro NAACP, Daviess County Probation and Parole, Catholic Charities, Audubon Area Community Services and Kentucky Legal Aid will host the event.

At the NAACP's October 2019 meeting, a guest speaker talked about an expungement workshop that had been conducted in Madisonville, Randolph said. Local NAACP members thought it would be a good idea to host a workshop in Owensboro.

Many formerly charged and convicted people aren't aware they can request misdemeanors and certain Class D felonies to be wiped from their records, she said. Felony records, in particular, can be barriers to obtaining employment and housing.

"If you made a change in your life and you want your record to reflect the change you've made, I encourage you to come," Randolph said. "We want to make a conscious effort to help people better their lives any way we can."

It costs a total of $300 to wipe a felony charge from a person's record. The local branch of the NAACP will pay the initial $40 to get the ball rolling for the first 40 people who attend the workshop, she said. That offer is made on a first-come, first-served basis.

Expungement fees can be paid in installments, but charges are not erased until the bill is paid in full. Homeless residents may request a fee waiver.

Currently, there is no way to remove federal convictions.

The upcoming workshop will feature attorneys and employees from the Daviess County Probation and Parole office, who will answer questions and help people assess their criminal records. Susan Montalvo-Gesser, an attorney and director of Catholic Charities, will speak about citizens' rights under the expungement law.

According to Clean Slate Kentucky, a free public service that provides information about expungement, people also may be eligible for expungement if they were acquitted, if charges against them were dismissed or if they received a pardon from a governor. Even those who received a governor's pardon must apply to clear their records.

Kentucky residents cannot apply if they have pending criminal charges, Clean Slate Kentucky reports.

Also, citizens with class D felonies must wait five years after the completion of their sentences to apply.

For more information or to find a list of class D felonies that are eligible for expungement, go to www.cleanslatekentucky.com.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com.

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