BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Second chances don't come along every day, but there's a big one available this weekend. Baton Rouge Easy Expungement Screening (BREES) is held on the first Saturday of each month. Since its inception in October, the program has helped nearly 500 people clear their criminal record.
"We didn't know how many people would respond, and we have had lines out the door every single Saturday," said Lindsay Blouin, deputy chief district defender for the EBR Office of the Public Defender.
Anyone with a rap sheet in East Baton Rouge can show up to see if their record can be cleared. Any arrest that did not result in a conviction can be wiped away. Felony convictions can be expunged after ten years and misdemeanor convictions after five. It's a valuable service that gives people a fresh start.
"They maybe went through a period in their lives where they were suffering from a drug addiction, and that resulted in a felony conviction, and now that they've cleaned up their lives and gotten back on track, they really want to be able to expunge that part of their past off their record to help them get employed in the future," Blouin explained.
Besides expanding the workforce, expungements also help people get promotions otherwise out of reach. The EBR District Attorney's office helps process the cases, along with the city prosecutor and the Clerk of Court.
"These are men and women who work full time all week," Blouin said. "This first Saturday we all get together and volunteer our time to put on this free expungement service, because helping people clean up their records makes for a better Baton Rouge."
BREES is happening on Saturday, July 7 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Connells Village shopping center (8894 Airline Hwy., Suite Q). That's located next to BRPD Headquarters on Airline Highway between Goodwood and Florida.
The entire expungement process takes about six months. There are some crimes that cannot be expunged, like violent crimes or sex offenses.