Expungements can erase the stigma that haunts people of color

Black Lives Matter Philadelphia sheds light on the over-policing of communities of color and is partnering with Community Legal Services to address the long-term consequences.

Op-Ed (Pennsylvania)

Tracie Johnson, Jarrett Drake
August 2, 2017

Tags: Criminal Records, Expungement / Record Sealing

Organizations mentioned/involved: Community Legal Services (CLS) of Philadelphia


Community Legal Services works with more than 1,000 people every year who are facing barriers caused by criminal records.

For example, consider the case of Shayna, a high school student who was charged with a summary offense for arguing in the hallway with a young man who was harassing her. A School Resource Officer gave her a citation for disorderly conduct for making a loud noise in public. After graduating, she had a baby and experienced homelessness with her young child because she was unable to secure a job due to her criminal record. Employers deemed her a “violent offender” for this very minor summary offense which they were not even legally allowed to consider.

This is a perfect example of how charges can be inaccurately amplified by employers and stand in the way of people who are trying to move forward with their lives.