PLSE Newsletter: July 2019
Help us get our new fiscal year off to a great start!
Contribute $200 to support a client’s expungement
or $5,000 to sponsor an expungement clinic helping as many as 100 client – or anything inbetween!
Expungement Project Ends Best Year Ever, Begins Next Record-Breaking Year
PLSE’s very first Criminal Record Expungement Project intake was held in February 2011 at Enon Baptist Tabernacle Church. So many people came asking for help with their records that it took our volunteer attorneys, plus many helpers from the church, two days to get to everyone.
Eight years later, with just a staff of two for most of the year and almost 100 volunteer law students, we gave 55 community presentations on criminal records, held 47 intake sessions for expungements, accepted 1,115 low-income clients into our expungement project, and filed over 2,200 expungement petitions with a success rate of over 99%.
Volunteers Attend Pardon Hearings in Harrisburg, Witness History Being Made
The Pennsylvania Board of Pardons holds public hearings four times each year to consider applications for clemency – pardons and commutations of sentences and parole. The hearings are held in the majestic, and very intimidating, Supreme Courtroom, with dozens of people watching. On May 29, our student interns and several members of our Pardon Project Steering Committee attended to learn more about the Board members’ concerns, so that we could better advise Pardon Project clients and volunteer guides about the pardon process.
Not only did our team have the opportunity to speak with Board Secretary Brandon Flood (pictured), but they saw history being made: for the first time ever, the Board of Pardons endorsed every application for a pardon, making only a few subject to conditions. Zero applicants were denied! This is just another sign that the Board, under the chairmanship of Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, is taking a brand new approach to what a pardon means.
Today’s Tip: Pardon Applications and Juvenile Records
For over a year, PLSE has been urging the Board of Pardons that they should stop asking applicants about their juvenile records, which enters that information on to the public record. Not only are these cases often decades old, but the law says they are supposed to be confidential! Although we have not yet succeeded in removing this question from the application, the Board has agreed that it does not need to know about any criminal record that has been expunged.
If you believe that you may have a juvenile record or arrest in Philadelphia, call the Defender Association juvenile expungement hotline at 267-765-6770 and see if you are eligible to have the case expunged!
PLSE Board Elects Two New Members
At its quarterly meeting in June, the PLSE Board of Directors said thank you and goodbye to one of its longest-serving members, Jennifer Sperling – one of PLSE’s original directors who is now a public interest lawyer in Los Angeles – and to one of its most famous, artist Russell Craig – who taught himself art while an inmate in Graterford Prison and just received a fully-funded scholarship from the Ford Foundation to attend Bard College in New York City!
Taking their places on the Board are Akeem Sims, a very active member of the Pardon Project Steering Committee and presenter at several attorney continuing legal education programs on the pardon process. We also welcome Glenn Barnes, an attorney and an award-winning professor at Peirce College (now retired) and poet who has been volunteering with PLSE in several capacities over the past years, including reviewing expungement petitions, helping with the Pro Bono Paralegal Project, and editing grant applications.
Click here to read more about PLSE’s Board of Directors – a truly remarkable, engaged, and diverse group.
Three ways you can help:
- Sponsor a client’s expungement for $200 or an entire clinic for $5,000!
- Invite us to speak with a community organization about becoming a Pardon Hub
- Write the Board of Pardons and urge them to stop asking pardon applicants for their confidential juvenile court records: Honorable Brandon J. Flood, Secretary, Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, 333 Market Street, 15th Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
Want to do more or learn more about the work we do? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 267-519-5323.
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