New Kansas mayor who spent time in prison helps ex-offenders
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A new Kansas mayor who served three years in prison before being elected spent his first full day in office launching a program that would help qualifying ex-convicts try to get the same second chance he received by having their criminal records expunged.
Jermaine Wilson presided over his first Leavenworth City Commission meeting on Tuesday evening, stepping into the mayor’s seat roughly 12 years after he went to prison for a drug conviction, the Kansas City Star reported.
Wilson and Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson on Wednesday announced a program that will help those who qualify under Kansas law get considered to have their criminal records erased. Thompson has planned a 60-day event to offer rebounding ex-offenders help from the prosecutor’s office and volunteering private attorneys.
Not every ex-offender can have their records expunged. Thompson’s event will have the prosecutor’s office evaluate cases to identify those who might qualify. A judge would have the final say.
Wilson had his record expunged in 2015, around the same time he launched his nonprofit Unity in the Community Movement. Two years later, Wilson’s friends pushed him to get into politics and he was elected to the City Commission.
Thompson said he asked Wilson to help him with the expungement event because he knew Wilson would serve as an inspiration to others putting their criminal histories behind them.
For qualifying ex-offenders, clearing their record “can help finish off that bad action they did,” Thompson said.
“Don’t dwell on your mistakes,” Wilson said. “Get up and move. If you fall, fall forward, so you keep making progress.”