Evanston, IL — April 16, 2012 — The Second Annual Northern Cook County Informational Expungement Expo took place this past Saturday, April 14th, from 2-4 PM at the Evanston Public Library, located at 1703 Orrington Avenue in Evanston, Illinois.
Approximately 130 attendees heard Larry Suffredin, Cook County Commissioner, give a welcome speech. Attendees also heard presentations on the issues of employment and a criminal background from Youth Job Center Core Employment Counselor Jessica Wingader, and Sheryl Seiling, Director of the Housing Choice Voucher Program at Cook County Housing Authority, discussed the issue of a criminal background on housing opportunities.
The second annual event provided Northern Cook County residents the opportunity to get educated on the importance and process of clearing adult and juvenile records. Participants spoke with attorneys about their records, connected with community organizations, and heard presentations about the challenges that criminal record holders face.
One such challenge is the misinformation surrounding the expungement process. According to Jordan Burghardt, Employment Outreach Coordinator at the Youth Job Center in Evanston, misconceptions about criminal records abound. “People don’t realize that any and all involvement with police or courts—even arrests, juvenile cases, and old cases—stays on their record until they take action to clear it,” she said. “We’ve had jobseekers who have only been arrested be turned down for employment opportunities. That’s why we realized it was an important service to offer to our community.”
Because involvement with the criminal justice system can severely limit educational, housing, and employment opportunities, many eligible individuals will reap considerable benefits by petitioning to expunge or seal their records. Although no records were expunged or sealed at the Expo, attorneys and attorney-supervised law students reviewed participants’ criminal histories and provided advice on record-clearing process.
The Northern Cook County Informational Expungement Expo is a collaborative effort of the City of Evanston, the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, the Youth Job Center, and Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin.