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.
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.