Home News Center New Web-Based Expungement Tools Launched by IL, MD, LA

New Web-Based Expungement Tools Launched by IL, MD, LA

October 2, 2014
Zoe Schein

Having a record—even from youth court—can drastically affect a young person’s life chances, including their prospects of education, employment, and housing. Expunging that record is one way to address this issue, but the requirements for expungement are often opaque to many who are eligible.

However, a new method for addressing this problem is gaining steam in states across the country: interactive websites that, through simple “Yes/No” questions, can help people determine their eligibility for expungement and direct them to legal resources that can help them proceed.

The platform, designed and pioneered in Illinois, is now live in three states: Illinois, Maryland, and Louisiana.

Jason Tashea, who recently stepped down from his position as Juvenile Justice Policy Director at Advocates for Children and Youth (an NJJN member), and who spearheaded the creation of  ExpungeMaryland.org, explained, “We set out to make a clearinghouse for everything expungement-related in the state of Maryland. For us, that meant connecting people who have criminal records with legal services and doing it in an individualized way. Other expungement-related resources don’t connect you to those services individually—and in fact the government’s PDF [on expungement] doesn’t even have a phone number. That’s what makes this unique.”

Maryland’s and Louisiana’s sites are both based on Illinois’ juvenile-specific site, Expunge.io, and deliberately kept their code open-source, to encourage other states to create similar projects.

“We did it all in-house,” said Tashea. “It only took 4 months. It was very inexpensive—the URL doesn’t cost much, and the code is online to use in other jurisdictions.”

Josh Perry, Executive Director of the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights (which hosts NJJN member the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana) also noted how simple Expunge.LA was to create. “It took about three weeks from start to finish. I think we first had the idea sometime this spring and we got somebody on board to make it for us, just to do the tweaks to make it relevant to Louisiana law.”

“There are too many children whose life prospects are being held back by their past involvement in the juvenile justice system,” Perry said. “There are real collateral consequences to juvenile adjudication, and expungement can help respond to those consequences. It’s a shame that the expungement rules are as byzantine as they are, and this is an easy way of making expungement an accessible option.” 

Learn more by exploring Expunge.io, ExpungeMaryland.org, and Expunge.LA.

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