Hundreds made their way to downtown Rockford to participate in the Second Chance Summit to help clear their past non-violent criminal record.
It allows members of the community of a second chance, and many took advantage of that opportunity on Saturday. The program was announced nearly two months ago during a news conference by Senator Steve Stadelman. The program allows members of the community the opportunity to expunge and seal past non-violent criminal records. It includes things such as non-violent felonies or misdemeanors.
"Most of these people have done the right things and have turned their lives around and done the right things. They’ve turned their lives around already and they are on the right path, but those past records are preventing them from moving on," Stadelman said.
Less than a year ago the state passed legislation that allows these non-violent misdemeanors and felonies to be expunged and sealed, so these services allow the costs of seeking an attorney to be eliminated.
There was a large amount of volunteers present to make this all possible for members of the community, at little to no cost. Stadelman says the cost of an attorney can usually prevent someone from getting assistance.
"Generally, cleaning up their records are going to make them a more productive member of society and they’ll be able to do a lot of things that they haven’t been able to." Volunteer Attorney, Paul Vella said.
This summit allows people like David Metz a second chance, and a clean slate.
"It hurts, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about it. I’m the one that made the mistake and I’ve paid for it, and I think this is going to be a really great outcome," Metz said.
Metz says it’s an exciting moment to be able to seal his past records that happened around 15 years ago. He says it’s something he is ready to leave in the past and move on from.
"I’ve had this issue that was kind of complicated and I would like to get it off my back, for my family, my friends , and for myself," Metz said.
A moment for Metz, made possible by this summit and the chance to meet with an attorney to get his records sealed. Stadelman says around 400 people signed up for the summit. Lawyers say, once the expunged or sealed record is approved, it can take several months until it is finally cleared off of someones record, and the entire process is completed.