11:02, March 04 304 0 abajournal.com

2019-03-04 11:02:06
Would-be law student gets record expunged with help of legal services group

Photo by designer491/Shutterstock.com.

A Kentucky woman who plans to attend law school hopes to someday help others expunge their criminal records because of her own experience.

Kristen Hawthorne returned to Bloomington, Illinois, last month to pick up a judge’s order expunging her felony conviction, the Bloomington Pantagraph reports. Hawthorne had been convicted for using a friend’s debit card without permission to settle a dispute when she was 19 years old.

The crime was a felony because of a previous misdemeanor conviction for shoplifting, according to a prior Pantagraph article published in February 2017.

Hawthorne told the Pantagraph that “the chains just fell off my body” when she picked up the expungement order. “I erased the last 12 years of my life.”

The felony conviction led to Hawthorne’s dismissal from a housecleaning job. She had trouble finding other jobs because of her record. She landed a food services job with help from a center for at-risk youth called Project Oz.

Hawthorne obtained the expungement with the help of Prairie State Legal Services.

Hawthorne hopes to attend the University of Louisville law school. She was pursuing a degree in paralegal studies, according to the former Pantagraph article.