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I was arrested in my home on March 15, 2010 after having one too many alcoholic beverages.  Me and my cousin Willie was hosting a home-warming party and started arguing which led to fighting.  I spent 3 months in jail waiting for a disposition before I folded and just changed my plea to guilty in hopes of being released from jail, saving my job, and getting back to my home and my cousin (who just moved to Florida).  Sadly, four days prior to being released from onto probation on April 29, 2010 I lost my job at Pizza Hut.  That caused me to struggle with my unemployment and school financial aid so as to pay on bills and rent.  My probation officer violated me for inability to satisfy Anger Management courses which I had no money to pay for completing six of the twelve courses.  I ultimately lost my home and was evicted.  My cousin was staying in Tampa with someone he befriended and agreed to let me stay with them.  The court lifted the No-Contact with my cousin there present in the court standing right beside me.  I then went to my probation officer to request the transfer of my probation from Pinellas county to Hillsborough county.  He was on the phone to find the office and successfully transferred my case.  Upon checking in with the Tampa office, I find out that I have a violation.  I found out at trial that it was because my Pinellas county probation officer violated me for moving out of county.  How can someone be violated for non-permission to move out of county and changing residences after the probation officer sat down and put in the transfer?  I was then placed on community control. I was doing well with it until I had to get another probation officer due my having to move into a shelter because my cousin and his friend started fighting and he wanted everyone out. So I planned on moving into the residence hall at USF so that I can finish my classes with zero distraction and a better chance to satisfy community control curfew.  My probation officer caused my eviction and ban from the residence hall by demanding her own key to both the building and my room.  So I once again moved into a shelter.  Then I moved in with my sister after she secured an apartment.  Then I was violated for being out after curfew for needing to do laundry and then for being out doing homework.  Both of those instances could have been avoided if my probation officer would not have caused my banishment from the residence hall on campus.  I then was violated again after me and my cousin got into another fight over money. Spent another six months in jail before being moved back to Pinellas County.  I was then placed in the Jail Diversion Program and placed into the Banyan Tree Residential program.  There I was able abstain from alcohol and attend AA meetings. My assigned therapist vouched on my not needing Anger Management courses and the judge granted the removal.  Within months I was able to have my probation terminated.

 All throughout the probation, both me and my cousin has been struggling to cope with not only society’s acceptance of my having a felony on my records but also us having to try and mend our feelings for one another and gain trust.  All I want is to be able to finish school and obtain the career that I want in journalism.  But everytime I try to get a better job, even volunteer with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, I aim halted by my background check.  I can’t even get a management position at my job with Pizza Hut without the fear of losing my job entirely.
I need for the laws to be changed so that my record can be either expunged or sealed.
User story by Karega H. in Florida

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