Amnesty program offers offenders second chance

ST. LOUIS - Two traffic warrants a few years ago were like a ball and chain for Myron Stewart.

They trapped him between a rock and a hard place. He got them for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign. He got them just as a he was laid off from his job.

Those warrants prevented Stewart from passing background checks for other jobs.

He couldn't go to school to get his real estate license.

He was stuck.

Until he saw some TV ads and flyers for a warrant amnesty. He went to line up with thousands of others at the St. Louis Community Colleges. He paid $10 for a voucher, took the voucher and $100 to the municipality where he had the warrant and got a court date.

In minutes, the warrants were gone and Stewart had a clear record. He was able to get a job and his real estate license.

Stewart is one of the 40,000 St. Louisans who say the St Louis Area Metropolitan Amnesty Project changed their lives.

"There are a lot of barriers families can't get over because they have outstanding misdemeanor warrants," said James Clark, spokesman for Better Family Life, an organization that works with local law enforcement to lift the warrants for misdemeanors like traffic and housing code violations, possession of marijuana, and minor assaults.

He said 85 percent of the people who come to the amnesty days just want to get back on the right track. The amnesty program was so successful in St. Louis, Clark said other cities like Indianapolis, Memphis, and Kansas City want Better Family Life to help them set it up there.

The remaining amnesty dates in St. Louis are:

Saturday, Aug. 2 at St. Louis Community College at Meramec

Wednesday, Aug. 6 at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley

Saturday, Aug. 9 at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park.

All of the events run 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.


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