The woman on the other end of the line said she was 65 and seeking an expungement for a summary retail theft conviction that had been on her record since she was 18 years-old (47 years ago).
She was eligible for expungement five years after her conviction, but by then her record had become a closely guarded secret. For 42 years, she had lived with regret, always fearful her family would one day find out the truth.
“I can’t believe I’m talking to a total stranger about my shame,” she said. Then, before quickly hanging up, she tearfully added, “I’m so scared my grandchildren will find out their grandmother is a thief.”
I wish she hadn’t ended the call. There was so much I could have said to ease her pain. I would have told her we have a 100 percent success rate with qualified expungement candidates. I would have told her we could take care of it quietly and in short order and that her humiliation could finally be lifted.
Then I would have told her about a woman I’ll call “Mary.”
Mary is a 60-year-old woman who was convicted of a felony drug offense 22 years ago. The conviction has always hovered just in the background of Mary’s life, serving as an embarrassing reminder of her mistake. But Mary didn’t opt to seek a pardon from the Governor until just recently, when one of the horrible consequences of her past finally caught up with her: she was denied the ability to work in her grandchildren’s daycare.
The shame and embarrassment Mary had felt for so long was finally supplanted by a much more visceral emotion. It wasn’t anger or sorrow or outrage. The consequences were, after all, hers to bear. But Mary had paid her debt to society. She had turned her life around. She had moved past that jarring experience … or so she thought.
Mary came to RecordEraserPA with her story, and when she presented her case to the board of pardons, she never wavered from the facts. She took responsibility. She also explained her situation, and asked the board’s members for forgiveness and understanding. Her story must have resonated with them, because they voted 5-0 to recommended her for a pardon. Now her shame has turned to joy and redemption!
Now the Governor can act.
To the grandmother who prematurely ended that phone call — if you’re reading this — please know that we can help. It’s what we do.
It’s never too late for a second chance.