Expungement clinic gives Vermonters a fresh start

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WINOOSKI, Vt. (WCAX) An expungement clinic in Winooski is aimed at helping Vermonters put their criminal pasts behind them. State officials say It's the first of many similar clinics they call a vital tool for increasing access to jobs and economic opportunity. Many of those taking part call it a life-changing opportunity.

"Today I am going to get an opportunity to have that record sealed and I can say I wasn't charged," said Michael Gonzalez of Burlington, one of many attending the clinic.

"Hopefully my whole record will be expunged," said Amber Giroux of South Burlington.

The expungement clinic at Winooski City Hall Friday afternoon had those who committed small crimes seeking a fresh start.

"We are talking about relatively low-level misdemeanor offenses," said Vermont Assistant Attorney General David Scherr.

To be eligible, participants are required to have stayed out of trouble for at least five years. Behind closed doors, volunteer lawyers worked one-on-one with people applying.

"They will help them fill out the paperwork and get whatever forms they need completed," Scherr said. With the goal to get them back on their feet. "The purpose behind that is to help people get jobs, be able to participate in the economy and ultimately help families."

A sigh of relief for those who are trying to put their past behind them.

"It's a huge weight lifted off of me and makes it so I can get decent employment and be a respectable member of the community," Gonzalez said.

"Anything -- I can do anything now," Giroux said.

The Attorney General's Office co-hosted Friday's clinic along with Vermont Legal Aid and the Chittenden County State's Attorneys Office.

If you have questions regarding your eligibility for expungement or any other inquiries, you can contact Vermont Legal Aid at expungement@vtlegalaid.org or 802-424-4701.