~from Community Voices

As if this Thursday’s mayoral candidate forum wasn’t already a different kind of event, organizers are now planning a free legal clinic alongside the East Knoxville forum.


One hour before the Community Voices Mayoral Candidates’ forum, at 5 p.m., lawyers from The Community Law Office and the UT Legal Clinic will be available to offer free legal advice about expunging criminal charges, waiving court costs, restoring drivers’ licenses, and other ways people can remove obstacles created by a criminal record.


With Knoxville having the highest African American poverty rate of most cities in the South, along with higher African American incarceration rates compared to other races, legal challenges are particularly tough in the Heart of Knoxville. Organizers hope the legal clinic will draw in residents who might not otherwise see the forum as a relevant event.


“A criminal record can keep people from getting a job, renting an apartment, reuniting with their children, and restoring the right to vote,” said  UT Law Clinic Director Joy Radice.  “But Tennessee has laws that can help people clean up their criminal record and rebuild their lives.  These laws aim to give people a second chance after an encounter with the criminal justice system.”


The Community Voices Coalition is a partnership of non-profit, non-government agencies based in the Heart of Knoxville who are working to empower inner city residents to understand and collectively address issues they self-identify as of the deepest concern in their communities.


The first Community Voices Candidate Forum will be held Thursday, July 25, 6 – 8 p.m., at Mount Calvary Baptist Church, located at 1807 Dandridge Ave.  The forum topics will include gun violence,  lack of youth opportunities, and unaffordable utilities (no questions about Recode or scooters will be entertained).  Attorneys from the Knox County Public Defender’s Office and UT Law clinic will be on hand 5 – 6 p.m. to assist with residents’ legal questions and referrals.