Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity1501 Cherry Street
Philadelphia Pa 19102
PLSE maintains a large Video Library of Youtube-style educational and self-help videos: www.plsephilly.org/video-library; and a library for volunteers: www.plsephilly.org.pardon-coach-toolkit
PLSE provides free legal advice and representation to low-income Philadelphia residents whose criminal records are holding them back from achieving their social and career potentials. PLSE seeks a more equitable social environment for those with criminal records through individual representation, strategic litigation, community education, research and advocacy. PLSE does this by seeking expungements in criminal court and pardons from the Governor; educating elected and community leaders; empowering and organizing under-resourced communities; and leading legislative, administrative and systemic reform.
Through our Fair Employment Opportunities Project, we connect clients with attorneys skilled in Pennsylvania’s Criminal History Records Information Act (CHRIA), Philadelphia’s anti-discrimination ("Ban the Box") law, and the anti-discrimination policies of the Pennsylvania Commission on Human Relations.
Since 2018, PLSE has been leading the effort to completely overhaul the pardon process in Pennsylvania. As of the fall of 2020, the process is free, understandable and accessible without an attorney, and the Board of Pardons is recommending 87% of all the pardon applications it hears.
Eligible client’s income may be no greater than 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. For assistance, clients must also have either an arrest record or conviction in Philadelphia County.
Individuals can become PLSE clients in four ways:
1) over the internet: www.plsephilly.org/intake
2) by direct referral from a community partner where they are already a client. Community organizations already serving low-income clients can contact PLSE at email@example.com to create this arrangement
3) at a criminal records clinic, hosted by a community partner (see our online calendar)
4) by telephone.
Criminal records: removing them (expungements and pardons), and helping clients minimize the collateral damage they cause (employment, housing, credit, health care, etc)
PLSE has 4 programs:
1) Expungement Project: representing clients in court seeking expungement (erasure) of criminal records
2) Pardon Project: helping individuals apply for pardons. We train and work with a growing volunteer (pro bono) network in which lawyers and non-lawyers provide informed assistance. PLSE conducts regular CLE-accredited training programs to train "Pardon Coaches"
3) Fair Employment Opportunities Project: representing (either directly or through a panel) clients who have had their rights violated either applying for a job or as an employee
4) Community Education and Organization. PLSE regularly offers programs via zoom on the variety of legal issues faced by people with criminal records (voting, employment discrimination, housing, etc).
Taylor Pacheco and Sarah Coyle
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