Does America Believe in Second Chances for the Mentally Ill?
After over 10 years of waiting to see about an expungement of my criminal record, my lawyer has determined that I can not get an expungement for a website I erected in 2004 assuming a false identity while off of my medications. Although I have served over 256 days in Morris Correctional Facility, earned my Masters degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University, continue to do charitable work within the community and won numerous awards for my documentaries, the courts have concluded that I can not seek expungement. This will have and continues to hold me back seeking gainful employment anywhere I apply. Should a person with a mental illness be given a second chance? Are we still so blind as to hold against an individual through the justice system a fair reevaluation of their rights and chances to start anew? It appears to me that I'm not being given a second chance but now having to harbor a record for my acts while my illness overcame me. The courts have decided that there is no chance to expunge my record and for this I will have to suffer for the rest of my life the dishonorable record of committing an act that had no real consequence towards the so called victims I offended by erecting a fictitious website. I have served for my crimes and paid my debt to society but the state still feels that I should not get a chance to have a second chance and will not allow the record to be cleared. I will continue my struggle to get cleared and carry on with my filmmaking endeavors for public exhibition but without due note that I will always be considered a felon in the eyes of the law. Is this fair America and do we believe in second chances for the mentally ill? Although I continue to be monitored by state mental health agencies and subscribe to my medicational treatments, the State and Justice Vincent Salem Atto believe that I should not get a second chance and remove my record after over 10 years of smooth sailing and productive living. What's your opinion? Not all mental health patience are murderers and gun carrying lunatics. Many of us just want to be productive again within the community. The system seems to carry severe contradictions about allowing us to regain and work towards a second chance. Your thoughts when you have a moment and thanks for reading.