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PNS Daily Newscast - December 15, 2017 


What's next following the FCC vote to end net neutrality? We have a pair of reports. Also on our Friday rundown: We'll let you know why adolescents in foster care need opportunities to thrive; and steps you can take to avoid losing your holiday loot.

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Group Sees Strong Response to WV Second-Chance Law

Charleston Attorney Rico Moore helped write a packet of instructions for people interested in taking advantage of West Virginia's Second Chance for Employment Act. (BlackLight Initiative/Facebook)
Charleston Attorney Rico Moore helped write a packet of instructions for people interested in taking advantage of West Virginia's Second Chance for Employment Act. (BlackLight Initiative/Facebook)
November 17, 2017

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A new organization is seeing huge interest in helping folks use West Virginia's new Second Chance law.

The BlackLight Initiative has been spreading the word about what it takes for former felons to have their convictions on their criminal records reduced to misdemeanors under the state's new Second Chance For Employment Act.

BlackLight organizer C.T. Minimah says they've gotten hundreds of inquiries after one packed meeting and thousands have watched a video on their Facebook page. He says people want to improve their job prospects, but also seem to want to be seen as productive, connected citizens again.

"We wanted to get the information for those people to get that 'scarlet letter,' as I like to say, off their chest," he says. "And it's just a burden lifting off their shoulders."

The law took effect this summer. It says that ten years after completing all of a sentence, parole or probation - and staying out of trouble for another five years - a former offender can have their record cleaned up.

The process is not simple, or quick. Minimah says they're considering asking the Legislature to shorten the time frame. He explains a decade-and-a-half can be too long for someone trying to support a family when they are automatically denied most decent-paying jobs.

"Fifteen years, that's a long time to go to have this hanging over your head," he notes. "At the same time that they're excited, they also understand that this is unrealistic."

Many of the state's nonviolent felons were convicted of drug crimes. Some in the Legislature questioned the proposal when it was being debated, saying the state has to stay tough on crime. But even many of the law's original opponents now seem to support it.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV