For the last decade John Jennings has used his organization Favar Ministries to help men transition from behind bars and back into productive and crime-free lives.
"Starting life all over again getting them reunited with their wives, with their kids, with their families and doing all these things to make it happen again -- then it comes that point when they need money," he said. "They need jobs and that's the most difficult part."
North Carolina offers first-time offenders and those with misdemeanor and low-level felonies, like larceny, the option to have their records cleared, only if they meet certain criteria. The NC Justice Center said those who qualify for expunctions face massive wait times.
"If you submitted it today with the clerk of courts office, it would take between a year to 18 months for you to actually have that record expunged from your criminal record," said Daniel Bowes, staff attorney for NC Justice Center, by phone. Bowes said the process took around 10 days in 2010.
He said the backups are the result of staff cuts to the SBI's Expunction Unit, which processes criminal background checks for each expunction review. The NC Justice Center pointed out the problem to the state Attorney General's Office and lawmakers just designated funding to help.
When someone files a petition for expunction, there is a $175 fee.
Under the new budget, the North Carolina Department of Justice and the Administrative Office of the Courts can use the fees to cover the costs of criminal record checks and processing fees.
The NCDOJ will also be able to use up to $1.4 million generated from the fees to create up to five new staff positions.
"There are all these collateral consequences that affect all aspects of someone's life," Bowes said, "So every day that they have to suffer the consequences of the criminal record unnecessarily, is a day that we should do everything we can to prevent."