‘I have been in jail 26 times, but now I have my own company:’ Expungement clinic offers fresh start to ex-offenders

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The packed parking lot at a Cordova church illustrates just how many of our neighbors refuse to let their past hold them back.     

One by one, they filed into Hope Church which has been transformed into a clinic.

“When you are sick you need to go to a clinic,” said Calvin Sanford, who’s the content creator at Marketality.

It is an expungement clinic to be exact. The goal is to help those who have had run-ins with the law get the chance to have their criminal history cleared.     

“(I) was once defined by an inmate number,” said Sanford. “I have been in jail 26 times.”

But times have changed. This is how the one time inmate now introduces himself.

“Marketality and clips. We are a film company,” said Sanford.

Sanford says his success does not end there.

“I have 2 or three degrees in school right now. 3:51 with honors,” Sanford said.

Even more important, Sanford is now the father which is something he dreamt of becoming.

“I got custody of my kids,” said Sanford.

 Sanford is just one example of how this can work.

“I think getting an expungement is so important because it allows people an opportunity for a second chance,” said Heidi Kuhn, Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk.

Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk Heidi Kuhn calls this clinic a new beginning.

“Just because someone has a past, it doesn’t mean they can’t have a future,” said Kuhn.

Sanford said, “We learn from our mistakes. That’s a life motto.”

Sanford said that journey to something better, and it begins right here, right now for those willing to go the distance.

“When you take the first step, that’s’ the best thing. That’s always the hardest step,” Sanford said.

Clerks from the general sessions court are taking them step-by-step on a path with plenty of twists and turns.

“People are here to get their lives changed, we are at a church where people come when they are sick. It’s a clinic, people who have records (and) it’s holding them back they need a cure,” said Sanford.

This is a big deal. We are talking hundreds who came out, and they are all hoping they will get greater access to jobs, education, as well as housing.  

And they are said it is only fitting it’s happening at Hope Church, a place they said is ushering in just that, hope.

“If he did it for me, He will do it for you,” Sanford said. “God is good. That’s who gets all the glory.”

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