Burlington, NC -- Lawmakers in Raleigh passed a law in December 2011 that gives ex-convicts a chance at breaking the cycle of crime, but the Certificate of Relief Act has gone largely unnoticed.
Now a group in Alamance County wants to help raise awareness about the law and help ex-convicts get back on the right track.
The Men's Empowering Resource Center (MERC) will host a forum called "A Criminal Record, You & What You Can Do" on Oct. 1.
The community discussion is a partnership between the center, an Elon University law student and the Positive Attitude Youth Center.
News 2 spoke with MERC executive director Tavores Vanhook who says he's frustrated by the fact that the thousands of ex-convicts in our state who need to know about the act are the ones who generally don't know it exists.
"It's very important because a lot of the guys we work with have previous criminal records and a lot of times, they feel like there's no hope," he said.
The Certificate of Relief Act allows ex-felons with less than two misdemeanors to petition for a judge's note, which they can take to employers, landlords and school admissions staff.
"It does get to a point where after a while, it does get hard because of the simple matter that people pull up your record and say 'eh' when you know you're more than qualified to do certain jobs," said Joe Jones who says getting a job after prison was hard.
The hope is the judge's order will show ex-felons like Jones have served their time, left their lives of crime behind and continue to travel down the right path.
"It'll better their families. They can do more for their kids: spend more time, be able to buy their kids what they need without having to go and take and break in," said Brian Medley, another ex-convict.
The Men's Empowering Resource Center will host a forum to explain how the Certificate of Relief Act works.
Again, that discussion is scheduled for Oct. 1 at the Positive Attitude Youth Center at 7 p.m. The center is located at 229 N. Graham-Hopedale Rd. in Burlington.
Learn more about Men's Empowering Resource Center here.
WFMY News 2