I attended a CLE at the Friends School late last night and discovered a relatively new non-profit legal aid organization by the name of Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE).
PLSE’s mission is to work toward outcomes for low-income individuals who have had contact with the Pennsylvania criminal justice system. PLSE advocates for a more equitable social environment for those with criminal records, including expanding access to employment and social services.
Mo was created as a tool to stop the cycle of poverty by giving people a second chance who have demonstrated that they have turned their lives around and are now giving back to their communities.
Last year, 63,282 people were arrested in Philadelphia and the criminal charges may or may not result in a conviction. The non-conviction data creates a significant barrier to escape the cycle of poverty in Philadelphia but thankfully the current District Attorney, Larry Krasner has publicly stated that “the district attorney’s office will no longer object to anyone seeking to clear his or her record of non-convictions.”
It is estimated that 300,000 to 400,000 Philadelphias have a criminal record that contains non-conviction information, i.e. Charges Withdrawn; Charges Dismissed; Nolle Prossed; Not Guilty; and Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ADR).
The digitization of the non-conviction data is causing havoc with people’s lives as they are denied employment opportunities; housing opportunities; even living assistance at senior living facilities for a transgression that may have occurred a long time ago. The non-conviction data is extracted by various software programs on publicly accessible websites and sold as a commodity in the form of an employment background check or a tenant screening check.
Unfortunately, this information stays frozen in time on a publicly accessible website until a Petition for Expungement is filed pursuant to Pa.R.Crim.P. 790.
If you would like to make a difference, please reach out to Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE).