ABILENE, Texas - With the help of a grant, an Abilene attorney is offering her legal services free-of-charge to homeless and underprivileged children around the Big Country.
Emily Schools has been an Equal Justice Fellow for six months and the grant will allow her to offer her services pro bono for a total of two years.
One of the free services she offers is legal help for people who have juvenile records. She said many of them can face difficulties when they try to join the workforce.
"Cleaning up the aftermath includes educating them on who has your record and who do you have to tell about it, who can you keep it from, clearing your record through expunsions or non-disclosure records, record sealing for minors and then how you go about clearing all these fines you have left over," Schools said.
She said her help is not only offered to juveniles. For example, people who are already in their 20s but have concerns about a past juvenile record can still reach out to her.
"Unfortunately criminality is so negatively stigmatized in the United States and honestly in Texas because we're tough on crime," Schools said. "So as soon as you hear that somebody has a disorderly conduct charge, you wouldn't want that employee to work in your office. But it could have just been a petty fight when they were in the 6th grade."
Schools said she also has resources available for homeless, runaway or otherwise unaccompanied juveniles. She has put together a handbook to answer legal questions those children may have.
"It addresses several legal topics they typically have questions about such as: How can I get emancipated? What is an emancipation? What happens if I'm pregnant and my parents kick me out and maybe want an abortion, what do I do? I'm thinking about running away, what are my options?" Schools said.
To get more information on her services, you can call (325) 677-8591 or call the youth hotline at (855) 846-2193.