A young woman sits at a table writing while speaking to a man

Credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

Expungement clinic brings vital legal services to the community

Johns Hopkins, Maryland Legal Aid partner to help citizens remove past charges from their public record, clearing a major obstacle to future employment, housing, credit

Johns Hopkins Media Relations
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Johns Hopkins co-hosted its sixth expungement clinic and resource fair on Saturday, a biannual opportunity for individuals to receive free legal counsel and potentially remove certain criminal charges and other offenses from their public records.

Previous charges that show up on a background check can present a significant obstacle for individuals attempting to secure a job, find a place to live, secure a loan, or go to school. Removing those charges from public inspection is an important way to help members of the community overcome that obstacle.

"This service provides a second chance for so many to do better for themselves, whether that be go to school or obtain better employment."
Audrey Johnson
Senior director for economic innovation and strategy

Saturday's clinic was part of the B'More Health Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center and was hosted in partnership with Maryland Legal Aid. In all, 234 individuals signed in to request legal assistance, resulting in 146 petitions completed for expungement and saving them $5,220 in legal fees.

"It's been a joy to see each expungement clinic get bigger and bigger," said Audrey Johnson, senior director for economic innovation and strategy in the Johns Hopkins Office of Economic Development and Community Partnerships. "This service provides a second chance for so many to do better for themselves, whether that be go to school or obtain better employment. I watched a woman leave the clinic Saturday celebrating with tears. People want to do better and get their lives back on track. This is why this service is so important. We want to help individuals have a second chance at life."

Added Angus W. Derbyshire, director for pro bono for Maryland Legal Aid: "Through the collaborative efforts of community partnerships, legal service providers, and volunteer attorneys from the private sector, this clinic was able to reduce barriers and bring positive change to low-income communities. Thanks to the vision of Johns Hopkins University and Health System, this project has grown from a small expungement clinic to a high-impact model of how legal and non-legal services can be brought together to uplift communities."

A group of about 20 people pose for a photo

Image credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

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