Michael Zhang, Community Law Division Metropolitan Public Defender
For many folks who have had run-ins with the criminal justice system, punishment doesn't end with the end of their sentence. Well past the period of incarceration, a criminal conviction can follow a person around for the rest of their life, preventing them from accessing housing, employment, and services which might otherwise help them integrate back into society. The State of Oregon provides a way for people to remove a limited set of items from their records. These eligible items have at least one of three attributes: they are old, they are relatively minor, they did not result in a conviction. But the statutory rules for determining which items are eligible are complex and prone to error when applying them by hand. As a result, expungement analysis is expensive in Portland - ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 when performed by private attorneys. This is money that those who need expungement services the most - those being pushed out of the housing market, those struggling to find employment - simply do not have.
This project will democratize the expungement process by making it available to all Oregonians, regardless of their ability to pay. It further seeks to provide these services in the communities that need them the most.
Create a form and decision tree to help expungement providers at the Public Defender's office quickly determine which items on an applicant's record are eligible for expungement.