Minor criminal offenses resolved during Second Chance Saturday

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VENICE, IL - It was called, “Second Chance Saturday.”  Hundreds of citizens with minor, non-violent offenses lined up outside the Venice Recreation Center Saturday morning.  They accepted an invitation to receive free legal advice for finding ways to resolve prior legal troubles.

Rhonda Chester is in her 50’s and said she’s still paying the price for a retail theft she committed decades ago.

“Every time I think I’ve got the dream job or whatever and then I go and apply for it then it pops up and causes me not to be able to get the job,” said Chester.

She hoped to have her record expunged so she can land a good paying job.

“I want to get it out of the way so I can move forward and be successful,” she said.

Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said it’s an important event because it gives everyone access to legal advice they might not otherwise be able to afford.

“This is an opportunity for us to break down that barrier that holds them back from doing better for themselves, for their family and from really being a productive member of this community,” said Gibbons.

The event was sponsored by the Simmons Hanly Conroy law firm.  A similar event was held last year in Alton.

“Our law firm is here to give these people a second chance,” said attorney Ted Gianaris.

He was not surprised hundreds of people showed up Saturday.

“There are people in communities all over the country with this problem and some of them don’t know they have it until they apply for a job and they don’t get it,” said Gianaris.