Reading — January 13, 2023 — 107 Berks County residents attended and received assistance at Thursday evenings expungement and pardon clinic.
The event took place at the DoubleTree in Reading and was hosted by Magisterial District Judges Tonya Butler and Carissa Johnson. The event was sponsored by state Sen. Judy Schwank, Berks Connections/Pretrial Services, MidPenn Legal Services, and the Berks County Bar Association.
Butler said the event came about when she learned that individuals who either had charges dismissed or were found not guilty didn’t automatically have those charges removed from their records.
“We can dismiss a charge, but what we didn’t know was that the charge was still going to be on their record,” Butler said. “We were blown away in regards to that.”
Johnson added that securing an expungement or pardon clears barriers to employment and allows individuals to return to society and become productive members of their community.
“I think what people fail to realize is that once a person goes to jail, they don’t stay there forever,” Johnson said. “You always have to ask yourself if you want that person to be better than they left, the same as they left, or worse.”
“I’m very proud of what we were able to accomplish tonight,” Schwank said following the event. “I had a chance to speak with so many of my constituents and hear firsthand about the support they received and how it’s going to allow them to move forward. My hat is off to all the folks who volunteered their time and helped make this happen.”
Secretary of the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons Celeste Trusty and Berks County District Attorney John Adams were at the event and answered questions from attendees.
Also in attendance at the event were state Rep. Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz, state Rep. Manny Guzman, Berks County Commissioner Michael Rivera, and Berks County COO Kevin Barnhardt.