Students whose legal status may cause potential problems can find it difficult when pursuing an academic degree and finding a job. There are, however, certain ways that students with a criminal record can still be successful.
“Criminal records can not fully be erased in the state of Ohio,” said Marty Eggleston, program coordinator and manager of Positive Reentry for Ohio Prisoners (PROP), a second chance program that promotes education for former inmates.
Eggleston said that the preferred term is ‘sealing’ the criminal record. This is due to the fact that expungement can create an implication that the records can be fully erased, but that the two terms are essentially the same.
Cathy Shaw, information support specialist for Women’s Link at Lorain County Community College, said that students come to them when they need an expungement.
“Students have the option to visit the Cleveland Legal Aid Society,” said Shaw. “They have an office in Lorain. Students can also get legal advice through Oberlin Community Services.”
Shaw said that both options are in Lorain County, and require an appointment prior to visiting.
“Women’s Link has a bank of attorneys that provide consultation for almost any legal advice including criminal law,” said Shaw.
Shaw said that students who, for whatever reason, can not get their record expunged can still receive a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE).
“A CQE allows an individual, who can not get their record expunged, a chance to receive a certificate for a specific career path,” said Shaw. “If you already know what you want to do and that does not conflict with your criminal history, then a CQE is a good option.”
Shaw said that students can reach out to them if they want to start their own business as well.
“There are local resources in the community that allow for students to market their business and to do so at low cost,” said Shaw. “There is NEO Launchnet which will help students to take an idea for a business and develop it.”
Shaw said that there is also the Entrepreneur Innovation at LCCC which is a regional fund focused on supporting community and technology based business.
“We are here to help the students in any way we can,” said Eggleston. “They self-disclose to us and we do not want them singled out. We (PROP) seek to reduce reincarceration by increasing education.”
Julie Ford, the advisor for Second Chance at LCCC, said that the process is not easy but that LCCC is here to help.
“It is tough to move passed a criminal record but we are here to help the students through the process,” said Ford. “Second Chance provides advisement for students and connects them with the services that will help them succeed.”