Expungement and Sealing: Clearing a Path to the Future

Community Legal Services, Inc. (CLS) has prepared a presentation on issues about criminal record-clearing (often called “expungement,” but also including sealing, and the like).  The power point presentation is being made available for use by the public.  It is geared toward legal advocates who may provide expungement representation, but it may also be useful to the broader public.

Although each state has its own record-clearing rules and procedures, there are common themes throughout the country.  This presentation addresses issues such as:

  • What is record clearing, and why does it matter?
  • What is the life cycle of criminal record data?
  • What studies say about expungement and desistance
  • Record clearing around the country
  • Using technology to facilitate expungements
  • Expanding an expungement practice
  • Resources – people, information & funding

The power point is open source, so all are welcome to use some or all of the slides or to modify the presentation to their own uses.  Attribution of CLS as the source is preferred.

CLS may be available to deliver this presentation at conferences, other large meetings, and webinars.  Requests can be made to Janet Ginzberg (jginzberg@clsphila.org) or Sharon Dietrich (sdietrich@clsphila.org).

CLS handles expungement cases in Philadelphia.  However, this presentation does not address Pennsylvania law or practice.

The power point presentation is available below.  For more information about CLS’s expungement work, see here.

Expungement Clinic in a Box

For nearly two decades, Community Legal Services (CLS) has been at the forefront of removing barriers to opportunity for people with criminal records. A major focus of that work has been to help as many people as possible expunge their arrest records. Over time, CLS has evolved in its approach to ensure that the clients and communities who most need their arrest records expunged are able to access legal help.

Developing a community-based expungement clinic model has been instrumental in increasing access to expungement services in the communities in Philadelphia that are most heavily policed. In 2016 and 2017, CLS has held more than 20 clinics and served over 400 additional clients in 12 neighborhoods beyond those we would normally serve. While expungement eligibility and process vary widely from state to state, we share our experience growing our community-based clinics model with the hope that it is helpful to the practices of legal aid programs around the country.

Please find below our downloadable “Clinic in a Box”, which explains the nuts-and-bolts of our clinic process.  The document concludes with forms and flyers that we use in our clinics to help your organization jump start a community-based clinic model.

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