The Fresh Start Initiative Program is designed to offer non-violent offenders a new chance at their future. The program will allow community members to move towards a better future for themselves and their families.
“It gives the citizens the opportunity to cleanse their record of crimes they’ve been convicted of earlier in life,” said District Attorney John DeRosier.
The goal for many trying to enter the workforce in Calcasieu Parish is to obtain a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (T.W.I.C.) card.
“This program gives them the ability to obtain T.W.I.C. cards and hopefully obtain gainful employment,” said DeRosier. “This gainful employment is what keeps people out of the criminal justice system.”
The program, which was instituted in early June 2015, will operate alongside other community organizations. No formal agreement has been put in place yet, but the District Attorney’s Office hopes to operate with the Community Foundation acting as an umbrella. Other organizations will include both religious and secular groups that already assist people with gaining education and skill development. These groups include those particularly associated with industrial activity.
“A lot of these offenders have a conviction(s) from ages 16-25 and are older now, planning for the future,” said DeRosier. “They look back at that anchor they dropped several years ago and realize its weight and how it’s preventing them from future developments.”
While the program will help many citizens, there are many factors under the expungement law. Not all cases qualify. Generally, violent crimes and sexual crimes are not eligible to be expunged.
Anyone interested in this program will first need to go to the Calcasieu Parish Clerk of Courts for expungement forms. These forms contain specific instructions on how to apply for expungements. The can be obtained online here.
For any questions contact the Southwest Louisiana Law Center at (337) 436-3308.