RALEIGH — Bob and Pat Barker believe in giving folks a second chance. And the couple is not just giving lip service. They are putting their money where their mouths are, specifically through a generous donation to Campbell Law School.
“Thanks in large part to this generous donation from Bob and Pat Barker, Campbell Law’s Blanchard Community Law Clinic will be able to hire additional attorneys to work with our Clinic Director Ashley Campbell allowing triple the number of our law students to assist with the growing number of expunction requests made possible by the Second Chance Act,” Leonard explained. “In addition, the funding allows us to go mobile with our clinic services and expand our reach to help those in rural areas of Eastern North Carolina. Our goal is to create a model for others to similarly help rural areas throughout the state.”
The Barkers work directly with nonprofits and governmental entities to encourage best practices in proven, cost-effective approaches to reducing recidivism.
“Our mission is to develop and support programs that help incarcerated individuals successfully reenter society and stay out for life,” Bob Barker says. “Campbell’s Community Law Clinic does exactly that. And now, thanks to the Second Chance Act, they can expand their efforts to help those who can’t always afford to help themselves get their criminal records expunged so that they can get a job or rent an apartment.”
The Barkers have also given Campbell University an additional $1 million to support its overall mission.
“Bob and Pat Barker have been instrumental in the transformation of the Campbell University campus,” said then Campbell President Dr. Jerry Wallace when the couple received honorary degrees from Campbell University in 2012. “Their commitment and generosity to Campbell will leave a lasting impression on the lives of our students, faculty and staff.”
The Barkers’ gift to the law school adds to the coffers established this summer with a significant donation from the Carolina Correctional Services, a former nonprofit, as well as the crowdfunding effort led by the clinic just after the Second Chance Act (SB 562) was signed into law in June. The N.C. Justice Center has also donated the services of an additional attorney to help in the effort, according to Leonard.
All told, thanks to the Barkers’ generous donation among many others, more than $250,000 has been raised since June to support the clinic’s expanded efforts regarding the Second Chance Act, which aims to reduce unemployment barriers for individuals who have a criminal record of non-violent misdemeanors or dropped charges.
“The Blanchard Community Law Clinic helps citizens move forward in their life after incarceration or involvement with the criminal justice system by providing free legal services to low-income individuals, commonly helping with expunction efforts,” Campbell said. “In response to COVID-19, the Clinic also saw a necessary avenue for those outside of urban areas, by going mobile to allow for more reach to help those with less access to resources to help those in rural areas, specifically in Eastern North Carolina.”
Studies have shown that employers have a dim view of job applicants with criminal backgrounds, even when those backgrounds include minor non-violent offenses — e.g. possession of a small amount of marijuana or bouncing a check at the grocery store — or even charges that were dismissed.
A survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management in 2012 indicated that employers perform criminal record background checks for nearly 70% of all job applicants. And 73% of the employers surveyed said a non-violent misdemeanor conviction was “very influential” or “somewhat influential” in the employer’s decision to hire the applicant. Even in cases where charges were dismissed — which indicates the applicant was never judged to be guilty of any offense — employers found the charge alone to be influential in the hiring decision at least 30% of the time.
The result? People who have been previously involved with the criminal justice system have a difficult time finding a job, renting an apartment + getting loans for school or to start a business. The Second Chance Act aims to change that.
Under the new law, certain misdemeanor and felony charges that are dismissed or found “not guilty” after December 2021 will automatically be expunged (a.k.a. removed) from a person’s criminal record. Additionally, multiple non-violent misdemeanor convictions can be expunged after seven years of good behavior. The Second Chance Act also closes a loophole left from the successful “Raise the Age” efforts several years ago — juveniles convicted as adults under the former law will now be able to expunge misdemeanor and low-level felony convictions that occurred when those individuals were 16 or 17 years old.
To read the complete provisions of the Second Chance Act, click here.
ABOUT CAMPBELL LAW SCHOOL
Since its founding in 1976, Campbell Law School has developed lawyers who possess moral conviction, social compassion, and professional competence, and who view the law as a calling to serve others. Among its accolades, the school has been recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA) as having the nation’s top Professionalism Program and by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers for having the nation’s best Trial Advocacy Program. Campbell Law boasts more than 4,300 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. In 2019, Campbell Law celebrated 40 years of graduating legal leaders and 10 years of being located in a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of North Carolina’s Capital City.