Make-It-Right event helps people resolve outstanding warrants

Hundreds showed up to the George R. Brown Convention Center Saturday hoping to clean up their records.

Some sat in traffic for an hour and a half, others used complimentary bus rides.

They all trekked through the convention center before jumping in a seemingly endless line looking for a second chance.

It was the fourth of an annual window of opportunity to resolve open court cases and remove outstanding warrants for low-level misdemeanors without the risk of being arrested. 

“I have kids and stuff, so I’m not trying to leave my kids and go to jail for warrants,” says one mother of six.
The Harris County District Attorney Office’s “Make It Right” event brought in around 800 people. Some said they've been treated unfairly in the past.

 “With a lot of minorities that can't afford representation, there is a charge put on you that you can't really fight,” says Shareef Hall who came to clear a misdemeanor warrant.

But along with case resolution, people could also get free legal help. Eighty volunteer lawyers gave advice for clearing records, and court clerks explained how to set up payment plans and community service. 

“They may have gotten a ticket from police, but it doesn’t mean they should pay for the rest of their life,” says District Attorney Kim Ogg, explaining that the process helps people move forward.

“The legal system is complex, and it’s hard to navigate. The average person has little idea where to handle specific warrants, which jurisdictions, courthouses- much less what to do when they get there,” says Ogg.

“The individuals here are getting help and access to our system that they need to take care of their business.”

Ogg adds that a part of crime prevention is building the city’s workforce.

With records restored, attendees are also able to apply for jobs.

One man came with his pastor for the event's Second Chance Job Fair. Schools and employers set up booths offering job programs and employment assistance.

“I’m a homeless man. I’m trying to change my life,” says the man who goes by the nickname Junior.

Others receive instructions to head straight to courts to complete the resolution process, but it's the first step for many who have been avoiding the law, allowing them to look away from their rearview, and start looking ahead.