Moises Torres (right) of #FBOFAPPAREL (Family Built on Faith Inspired by Loyalty) wraps up a meeting with Pardon Project Director Tobey Oxholm from Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity in September 2022.
Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity will review cases for pardons by a judge
PHILADELPHIA—New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) will host a criminal record clearing and sealing clinic on Saturday, May 20, from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM at the Kensington Empowerment Hub at 2771 Ruth St, Philadelphia. The event is supported by The Promise, a public-private partnership aimed at reducing poverty in Philadelphia.
The clinic is open to everyone and free to income-eligible clients. Attendees will be able to meet one-on-one with lawyers from Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE) to review their case for record clearing or pardons by a judge.
Each participant can also receive budget counseling, a screening for energy assistance, credit counseling, DHCD home repair applications, new mechanisms for stress management, criminal record clearing & sealing assistance and how to become active neighbors in the community, all for free!
There will also be a job fair, guest speakers, refreshments and activities for children.
What is record clearing?
Record clearing is a legal order from a judge to erase part of someone’s criminal record. It can erase the record of an arrest, individual charges from an arrest, or even a conviction in limited situations.
An estimated 20% of all Philadelphians have a criminal record, according to PLSE. They face many barriers to entering the workforce, including policies that bar them from certain positions or employers, or from getting required credentials or licenses.
“It’s a blessing just being considered for this,” said Moises Torres, who started the record-clearing process at an event at NKCDC last September. “I have an opportunity to do better for my career, my clothing line, my family. I got boys and a goddaughter—I want them to see that I’m that type of man. I got a newborn. I don’t want anyone to judge me for what’s on paper—I want them to judge me for the man I’ve become today.”
A public-private partnership
In 2020, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey teamed up with the City of Philadelphia to introduce The Promise, a public-private partnership aimed at reducing poverty and promoting equitable recovery from the pandemic.
For NKCDC, goals of The Promise are a great fit for its mission to tackle the root causes of poverty in the Kensington, Fishtown and Port Richmond neighborhoods. In addition to hosting record-clearing clinics like the one on May 20, NKCDC empowers neighbors to access community resources and city services spanning housing, health and small business support.
The May 20 event is coordinated by Rodney Mobley, NKCDC’s Outreach and Engagement Specialist. Mobley’s passion for the work is personal. Clearing his own arrest and record allowed him to serve as a community outreach coordinator with the People’s Emergency Center in West Philadelphia, before joining NKCDC in 2017.
“I believe poverty is not an unlucky circumstance,” Mobley said. “I see how the criminal justice system disadvantages Black and Brown citizens more than others. NKCDC believes striving for racial equity is essential to fulfilling our mission—working with neighbors to strengthen communities so everyone can thrive.”
“NKCDC empowers people to build their lives and their communities,” said Dr. Bill McKinney, executive director. “For a neighborhood like Kensington, healthy housing, workforce development, and wealth building are all interconnected. Record clearing clinics, like this one supported by The Promise, help individuals provide for their families, but they also give employers access to new, dedicated employees.”