As many job seekers know all too well, sometimes the past is one of the biggest obstacles to obtaining a job that will improve their future.IMG_20151010_105009954

As part of SCPa Works continued efforts to provide meaningful services to our ex-offender community, we recently hosted an expungement clinic that aimed to provide formerly incarcerated individuals with the resources they need to begin the legal process to “seal” (or, remove from public eye) the record of an arrest or a criminal conviction. As job seekers find it increasingly difficult to find a job with a criminal record, SCPa Works is committed to providing resources and support to better improve the outcomes for all members of our community.

This expungement clinic was welcomed with tremendous support from the community. The Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE) in partnership with the People’s Paper Co-Op (PPC) facilitated an expungement eligibility clinic with the Dauphin County Bar Association (DCBA) and the Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network. The expungement eligibility clinic was held with space generously donated by PA CareerLink® Capitol Region in Harrisburg.

The purpose of the expungement eligibility clinic was to provide resources, eligibility information and other supportive services to formerly incarcerated individuals in the community, including advice, service, and aid regarding criminal record expungement. One hundred people pre-registered with an additional one hundred and fifty people requesting services. Due to the overwhelming amount of need for service, PLSE provided an educational presentation on the creation, dissemination, and destruction of criminal records pursuant to the Criminal History Record Information Act at Bethesda Mission.

IMG_20151010_113930891The expungement eligibility intake clinic began with an educational presentation on the Criminal History Record Information Act with an emphasis on the use of criminal history by employers and eligibility for expungement. At PA CareerLink® following the brief presentation, volunteers conducted one-on-one interviews with potential clients. Intakes were processed on a first-come-first-serve basis. The PA CareerLink®, PLSE trained volunteers from the DCBA, Penn State Law School, and other interested attorneys on the creation, dissemination, and destruction of criminal records, how to read a court summary, how to perform empowered intakes, and on the requirements of the Criminal History Record Information Act for potential employers.

Considering the overwhelmingly positive response we received from the community, this certainly won’t be the last expungement event we host in the region. We are already working with our community leaders in York to set up a similar clinic in 2016, and we hope to bring more awareness to this issue in the new year as we develop a robust, holistic strategy for better serving our ex-offender population.

More to come…