In Virginia, there is no such thing as a new beginning because your past still haunts you.

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Tanyika Howard-Downs started this petition to Representative A. Donald McEachin and

I got into trouble when I was 18. In the midst of it I received my GED and took a college course. I also took several self- help classes and worked my whole time in. I am now 36 years old and my past still keeps me from moving forward with my future. Staying productive while incarcerated hasn't helped me too much out here in society.  In the state of Virginia you cannot expunge your record if found guilty for a felony. My past (almost 20 years later) STILL effects my future in a negative way. I found out that after 10 years Zahnhall gets rid of the transcripts for criminal cases. Interesting, yet it cant be taken off of my record after 10 years? In Norfolk City, the Circuit Court doesn't even have the transcripts at all. So they can get rid of our records after 10 years but we the ex-felons CAN'T expunge our records when we have NO other offenses since the original crime that we served our time for?  Here I am 17 years after being released from prison, NEVER got into ANY other trouble, I have NO other offenses but yet, employers can STILL check my background and see what I did when I was a teenager and have it stop me from moving forward in my adult life. I want to know if there is any way that my record can be cleared/ expunged. I am a mother of 3. I am a wife. And I also have 2 stepchildren. I am trying to start two businesses and CAN'T because of my 17 year old criminal record. I want to go into the medical field and work at a hospice and CANNOT do ANY of these dreams of mine because of a criminal background that's almost 20 years old and that I cannot get rid of & its truly hindering me. It has kept me stagnant for way too long. I want to see if there is a way that I can truly start over with my life. This has held me back from doing so many things and it is NOT fair. I did my years in prison. I've paid my debt to society, but yet I am still paying for it at almost 20 yrs later. I was young and dumb. I have so many things I want to do. I just need a chance and I'm not being given one because of something that happened 17 yrs ago. Other states let you expunge your record, but not this state. I've paid for my crime and then some. I want the fresh start that was promised to me and I know that other ex-felons want and truly deserve the same. I had just taken my ASVABS to go into the Army to get away from the trouble before I got caught up in the foolishness that caused me my freedom and my life. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time with who I didn't know were the wrong people.  I was dumb trying to live by the "code of the street" and took the wrap for someone and that day was the biggest mistake of my life. And to this day, I'm STILL paying for it unless I can get my record cleared or expunged. I'd NEVER been in trouble BEFORE that and HAVEN'T been in trouble since that dreadful day. I want to know, can this be made a law? A law that after 7 or 10 years an ex-felon's record can be expunged if they haven't gotten into anymore trouble since the day they were originally sentenced for that crime. We shouldn't have to live the rest of our lives with our past over our heads.

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