On Tuesday, we told you about Berkeley Career Express, a new program designed to get people ready to apply for a job. But what can you do if you apply, but are told you did not get the job because of a minor criminal conviction on your record?
It’s a problem many people in the Lowcountry have to deal with.
About 6 months ago, Deputy Edmund Vice with the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office noticed how big the problem was while talking to friends. “We’ve seen several people who are trying to find jobs that cannot find jobs.”
They learn that a past crime on their record prevents them from being hired at one of the companies announcing new jobs in Berkeley County. “That’s what put us into expungement, trying to help people better themselves so that they can better their families and provide for their families.”
Expungement is basically erasing a conviction from your record.
Vice helped organize people from the sheriff’s, magistrate’s and the solicitor’s office into an “expungement team.”
Attorney Mason West is on the team. “Generally speaking, it would be for first-time offenders, people who haven’t been in trouble in a long time. Obviously the particular criminal offenses that carry heavier sentences wouldn’t (qualify) and the particular sentences that would be eligible for the smaller misdemeanors obviously would.”
Vice says this has helped a number of people already. “I had a gentleman come and tell me he had started as a business hauling materials. He had started a business hauling wood chips or something like that.”
But in order to land a big contract, he had to get a security clearance. “He came here in a panic one day because that was stopping him from getting a contract.”
Vice was able to point him in the right direction to get an expungement. “And I think he was able to get the contract to be able to take that government job.”
If you know someone in need of expungement, call the Berkeley County Solicitors Office at (843) 719-4529 and ask for Tammy.
If you are a lawyer, or someone who has experience with expungements and would like to help the team, contact Deputy Vice at (843) 209-3101.