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An upcoming event in Queens seeks to help those who want to turn their lives around for the better.

From Aug. 6 to 10, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz is partnering with the Legal Aid Society to host “Know Your Rights Week: Closing Cases, Opening Doors,” a series of public, legal workshops which help those who hold nonviolent criminal convictions to find employment and economic opportunities.

Participants will get the opportunity to receive free, confidential advice from lawyers, who will help them seal their nonviolent criminal conviction records, clean up their rap sheets and obtain Certificates of Relief and Good Conduct.

“If you’ve proven that you’ve turned your life around and are making good, the burden of a past nonviolent mistake should not ruin or impede your future opportunities for the rest of your life,” said Borough President Katz in a statement. “Second chances and social justice reform are an integral part of New York values. This is about eliminating barriers to employment and economic opportunity, reducing recidivism rates and breaking the cycle.”

New York’s Conviction Sealing Law went into effect in October 2017, after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation into law in April 2017. The law is based on the belief that those who have nonviolent offenses and have turned their lives around should not have to bear the stigma of their convictions or face “unnecessary barriers” to jobs and opportunities.

According to The New York Times, only 346 records had been sealed as of May 2018, but court officials believe that over 600,000 New Yorkers could be eligible to seal their records.

“Everyone deserves a second chance, and that includes a genuine opportunity to seal dated convictions that jeopardize housing, employment and other livelihoods,” said Tina Luongo, Attorney-In-Charge of the Criminal Defense Practice at The Legal Aid Society.

The August event is part of Katz’s series of “Know Your Rights Weeks” and also reflects her longtime partnership with Queens’ legal professionals to expand their services to people across the borough. The borough president has partnered with 696 Build Queensbridge, LIFE Camp, Inc., Sheltering Arms NY – Rock Safe Streets, Transitional Services for New York Inc. and the Queens Library for the upcoming event.

Below is the English flyer with the full schedule for “Know Your Rights: Closing Cases Opening Doors.” Flyers in English, Spanish, Chinese, Bengali and Korean are available at www.queensbp.org/knowyourrights.

ENGLISH - Know Your Rights Week August 2018 FLYER_FINAL

An RSVP for the event is recommended, but walk-ins are welcome. For more information and to RSVP, visit www.queensbp.org/rsvp or call 718-286-2661.

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