URBANA — People in Champaign County finding that their criminal past is hindering their future should attend a seminar set for Saturday in Urbana.

The fourth annual “expungement and record-sealing summit,” set for 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Stone Creek Church, 2502 S. Race St., U, is sponsored by Champaign County Circuit Clerk Katie Blakeman along with other politicians and community leaders and agencies.

Its purpose is to help those who would like to get their criminal records wiped out or sealed from public view, thus removing barriers to everything from driving privileges to housing to better employment.

Besides Blakeman, whose office is responsible for keeping court records, other sponsors include State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana; State Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign; Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons; First Followers; the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District; the City of Urbana; Stone Creek Church; and the Urbana Park District.

Sixth Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Karle Koritz, the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office and area police agencies have agreed that those attending can complete all aspects of the process at no cost.

The process involves determining if an attendee is eligible for record expungement or sealing, and if so, preparing the necessary paperwork and getting it filed.

More than 100 lawyer volunteers and legal students who understand the process will be on hand to assist with that.

Other local agencies will have information on employment, job training, education, health care, housing and voter registration.

“This event is the most rewarding work I get to do all year,” Blakeman said. “The collaboration and enthusiastic support of so many local government organizations and social-service agencies is truly unique, and Champaign County should be proud of coming together to help our neighbors find a second chance.”

The MTD is providing free rides to any participants who need help with transportation, and free child care is provided by Stone Creek Church and the Urbana Park District.

Aaron Ammons and his staff will be present to talk to attendees about voting rights and getting participants registered to vote.

Representatives from the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office will also be on hand to answer questions for participants who have had their licenses suspended or revoked.

NEWS GAZETTE | October 4, 2019