by Alice Culpepper
Georgia Justice Project, one of the Judicial Council’s Access to Justice Committee’s partners in our Virtual Record Restriction Clinics, has helped establish a “Second Chance Desk” in the Cobb County Circuit Defender’s Office. This desk provides a permanent, daily service to those seeking criminal record restriction and sealing for certain offenses. On January 1, 2021, Senate Bill 288 went into effect and expanded the eligibility for record sealing, and now, an estimated 1.5 million Georgians may be able to restrict and seal their criminal record completely. Under the new law, individuals can request to seal up to two misdemeanors, and those with felonies may request to seal their records if they have received a pardon for their offense. At this help desk, individuals can receive a free consultation and assistance from Georgia Justice Project attorneys in filing for record restriction and sealing. This Second Chance Desk marks an important step in removing barriers to employment and housing for some previous offenders who have proven that their past mistakes do not define them. The Georgia Justice Project hopes to expand this service to other locations throughout the state.