My name is Brent. I am a recovering alcoholic and have been active in the program of AA for nearly 10 years now. I am 42 years old today. I started drinking and doing drugs as self-medication for depression when I was 14 years old. At 18 I was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. I pled first offender and was placed on probation. As an alcoholic and drug addict, probation was very difficult to complete. I was finally sentenced to a treatment center in Atlanta in 1998. I stayed sober for a number of years but went back to drinking after the death of a very close friend.
In 2009 I was managing a shoe store and addicted to drugs and alcohol. I took money out of the deposit to support my habit and was arrested for two counts of Fiduciary theft for $500. I took a plea and was given a felony. At the time I thought that after 5 years you could have your record expunged, so I had no reason to fight the felony part. I was already very active in recovery when I went back to court and an AA buddy had told me how he cleared up his record after he got sober, and figured I could do the same. I believe in a spiritual path and believe that if you do the right thing, things will work out. But I later learned that Georgia is different from the state he lived in, and there is nothing I could do about my felony conviction in Georgia.
Since my sentencing ten years ago, I have accomplished many things in my life. I completed probation early for excellent behavior. I have remained sober. I kept the same full time job for for three years before returning to school. I graduated from Mercer University with a degree in Accounting in 2016. I was one the first members of Mercer’s honor accounting society. My average at Mercer was a 3.75. It wasn’t until after graduation that I did the research and found out that in Georgia you could never have your record expunged. It was devastating.
I am married with two children and I fear I wasted all my time working on this degree only to never be able to work in the field that I was so good at in school. My wife and I opened a retail store (one in Macon and one in East Cobb) that has done well, but the shadow of my record always looms over my head. Owning your own business is always risky. We are making it by on one income, but it’s been hard.
My record is holding me back from reaching my potential. I am too embarrassed and scared to try to apply for a CPA license because of my record. If I could get a job in the accounting field and earn a second income, it would provide more financial security to my family. Even if is too late to help me, I want to help others who fight so hard to change their lives get a chance at a clean slate. Working with alcoholics and addicts on a daily basis I see people make complete and radical changes. I witness people go from complete darkness to being the most honorable and trustworthy humans that I have ever met. We all deserve another chance at being the citizens that we were always meant to be.