Creating Pathways to Record Clearance

A criminal record shouldn’t be a life sentence to poverty.

About this Priority Action Area

Brigade members across the country have been working to create pathways to record clearance for years, building momentum for this work via the #clean-slate Slack channel, and weekly clean slate calls. In 2019, Code for America Brigade members launched the Record Clearance Research Team with the goal of conducting research on fines and fees associated with record clearance, and 2019’s NDoCH focus was on the record clearance process. We partnered with Code for America’s Criminal Justice team on these efforts.

We want to continue to make an impact in this space, whether it is in the area of fines and fees or helping local government identify records that are eligible for clearance. Connect with the work of Brigades on Creating Pathways to Record Clearance on Discourse.

Projects

Across the country, Brigades have launched projects to help people get through the process of records clearance. Some of these projects include YourSTLCourts out of St Louis, MO, Access2Justice from Portland, OR, expunge-vt from Burlington, VT, and Heart out of Hack for LA.

Learn more about Creating Pathways to Record Clearance projects through their Brigade Project Canvases below.

Project Canvas
RecordSponge

Software that helps community organizations quickly analyze an individual’s criminal history to determine if they qualify to have their records expunged

by Code for PDX

Project Canvas
ExpungeVT

Chrome app to streamline the process of gathering and highlighting relevant information from online dockets; and generates record clearing petitions tailored to the circumstances

by Code for BTV

Project Canvas
CleanSlate

A web application that makes it faster and easier for sealing clinic volunteers to help people seal their juvenile records

by Code for Boston

Project Canvas
Petition Generation Tool

The petition generation tool helps Durham residents expunge their records and get their driver’s licenses back by automating the petition generation process for Durham Expunction & Restoration Program (DEAR) attorneys
by Code for Durham

What is a Brigade Project Canvas?

One way the National Advisory Council and Network Team are focused on supporting the Priority Action Areas, is to ensure that successful projects in each Priority Action Area are lifted up and are easily accessible to other Brigades, should they wish to redeploy or share in similar projects. Teams for a number of successful projects in this Priority Action Area have created project canvasses to help other teams engage in similar projects.

Partnership

Code for America’s relationship with National Expungement Week has stayed strong, since our partnership last year on NDoCH. This year, National Expungement Week and Code for America worked together on a “Letter to the Editor” effort, advocating for automatic record clearance. The Network Team is working with Brigades across the country to get Letters to the Editor published in various publications. This is an ongoing effort.

Record Clearance Working Group

The Network Team and members of the #cleanslate group as part of Code for America’s Slack channel engaged in an ideation process to find ways to increase the Network’s impact in record clearance projects. Through this process, it became clear that Brigades still feel a lot of need for support in tackling record clearance projects in their communities. In order to fill this need, the Network Team, Criminal Justice Team at Code for America, and members of the core team, worked together to plan a Record Clearance working group in which volunteers interested in record clearance projects can learn about how to engage in record clearance projects.

The workshop series consisted of two workshop sessions, and an opportunity to sign up for office hours with members of the Criminal Justice team. The two workshop topics were:

  • Record clearance as policy—understanding which records are eligible and how the process works
  • Centering users in design—understanding who will use your product and what they’ll use it for

Do you want to get involved in a project in this Priority Action Area?
Join our Slack community to pitch in.