When I was 20 years old, I made a mistake.
I was young, dumb and running with the wrong crowd… and I had gotten involved with drugs. One day, I needed money, and I knew my grandmother did not lock her door. I snuck in with a friend, and took $30 from her house.
I was soon caught, and even though my grandmother ultimately forgave me, I was convicted of daytime burglary, a felony, and sentenced to prison.
It is still hard for me to talk about what I did over a decade ago. I did not know then what a huge impact this mistake would have on the rest of my life.
I am not asking for a get out of jail free card. I already paid my debt and did my time.
I am asking for a second chance at life.
I am a single mother of two handsome boys. They are the light of my life. All I want to do is provide for them and give them a better life.
I went back to school and obtained a degree in Medical Administration, but have been unable to find a job in my field. It seems that as soon as an employer finds out that I am a convicted felon, company policy prevents me from being hired.
I wanted to become a social worker so I could help others that find themselves making the same mistakes I did. But that requires a license from the state which convicted felons cannot get.
The bipartisan Senate Bill 411 and House Bill 2604, would give determined, well-meaning and hardworking West Virginians like me that second chance.
These bills allows first-time, nonviolent offenders to petition the courts for a clean record, five years after completion of parole or probation.
Applicants are judged on an individual basis. No conviction involving a gun, a sex offense, stalking, domestic violence, malicious wounding, or any crime against a child is eligible for this program.
Second chance legislation gives West Virginians like me the ability to return to being responsible, productive members of society.
It will put people to work and keep families together. It will provide an extra incentive for recently released West Virginians to stay clean and stay out of trouble.
And it will allow people like me to provide for my children without government assistance, saving taxpayers’ money.
I urge our state’s leaders to support this program that offers forgiveness, redemption, and gives West Virginians a second chance.
Because my life hangs in the balance. The same is true of the lives of impoverished children and their families across the Mountain State.
[To show your support for Senate Bill 411, fill out this easy form to send a letter to your legislator!]