What We Do
Mass incarceration has resulted in hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians having criminal records that hurt them, their families and neighborhoods for generations. We all should want to help our neighbors get the second chances they have earned, and we can! PLSE works to uplift communities most affected by social justice inequities by providing assistance to neighborhood organizations and individuals who feel that their criminal record is blocking them from jobs, careers, education, credit, housing and other opportunities.
Criminal records are permanent unless a judge erases, or “expunges,” them – but this happens almost every day! In 2019, PLSE obtained over 3000 Court Orders for its clients, with a success rate of over 98%! PLSE’s Criminal Records Expungement Project provides free legal services to low-income individuals with criminal charges in Philadelphia County only, and helps connect to resources that can help in other places.
For people not yet 70 years old, the only way to get a conviction erased from your record is by a pardon from the Governor – and thanks to reforms championed by PLSE, YOU could have better than a 50-50 chance of getting one if you’ve turned your life around! PLSE’s Pardon Project provides free information, advice and representation to qualifying individuals, and is creating a network of “Pardon Hubs” throughout Philadelphia where you can get information and help. And on this website, you can watch videos from people who have gone through the process.
PLSE offers trainings for volunteers and workshops about criminal records, expungements and pardons, and related issues like employment rights, voting rights, housing and credit. These trainings can be requested for community organizations and service providers. While “social distancing” has postponed most of our community events, we are putting lots of our programs on this website.
PLSE’s Fair Employment Opportunities Project provides advice and representation to people who have been denied jobs or promotions or otherwise been treated unfairly at work because of their criminal records. PLSE also teaches employers what their rights and duties are, on how to avoid liability, helps employees clear their criminal records, and conducts fair employment HR reviews.