A program that helps people seal their criminal records has been expanded across Minnesota.
Attorney General Keith Ellison, along with the Hennepin, Ramsey, and Washington county attorney's offices announced HelpSealMyRecord.org, a statewide online expungement application program, during a news conference Thursday.
Ramsey and Washington counties launched this initiative last October, but now that the attorney general's office is involved, the program is available for every Minnesotan.
“We’re excited to partner with Ramsey and Washington County on this expungement initiative. It’s unique and transformative in how we approach those who have been through the criminal justice system,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a news release.
The program helps people with criminal convictions, who have completed their sentences, seal their records for free.
Eligible criminal convictions, according to Minnesota state law, include fifth-degree drug possession or sale, theft, receiving stolen property, damage to property, forgery crimes, mail theft and others, according to the state Attorney General's website.
Prior to the HelpSealMyRecord initiative, those with criminal records either didn't know they could seal their records or had to do this process on their own, which can be expensive, FOX 9 reports.
The statewide initiative is good news for people who have faced barriers due to their criminal record, despite having served the punishment for the crime they committed.
"This is an invaluable resource for citizens of Hennepin County who have faced barriers in their lives due to past criminal records. Sealing a criminal record can make it a lot easier for people to find employment and housing, and increases access to education. These are people in our community who have served their sentence and deserve a second chance at being productive members of society," Ellison said.
The Hennepin County Attorney's Office has launched a webpage for county residents with more details and information on how to apply to get a criminal record sealed. It also has an eligibility questionnaire that residents can fill out (click here).