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Easy Expunctions levels the playing field for people with criminal records

  1. Criminal Justice

Easy Expunctions levels the playing field for people with criminal records

Tens of millions of Americans are eligible for expungement. But only 6.5% ever finish the process, keeping barriers to employment, housing, and brighter futures in place.

Man sitting at a desk

It's no secret that the cost and complexity of navigating America's legal system is a luxury most cannot afford. Yousef Kassim is working to change that. 

Kassim is the co-founder and CEO of Easy Expunctions, which is a pioneer in the emerging market for legal tech services. More than 15,000 people have used the company's online platform to remove past run-ins with the law from their criminal records – at a fraction of the cost of traditional attorneys' fees, and with guaranteed success.

"Dealing with the criminal justice system can be frustrating," says Kassim. "We're trying to demystify the entire process."

The high cost of expunction

Today, as many as 1-in-3 Americans–up to 100 million people–have some type of criminal record. Having even a minor criminal record, such as a misdemeanor or even an arrest without conviction, can create lifelong barriers to employment, housing, education, family reunification, building good credit, and countless other facets of life.

Tens of millions of these records are eligible for expunction, a formal legal procedure that provides deserving individuals a fresh start, eliminating the negative impact that a criminal record can have on a person's reputation.

The problem, however, is that it's a complicated process. Every state has its own requirements, and no two are exactly the same. Some require hand delivery of the necessary paperwork to district attorneys, while others demand a judge-signed order. Some require papers obtained from prosecutor's offices, while others accept court records. Some require a court hearing, others do not. If an expungement is granted, signed orders must often be filed with different government agencies.

The only real option for most people is to hire a lawyer. But court, administrative, and attorney fees can total up to $5,000, which for most isn't an option at all. 

As a result, only 6.5% of people who are eligible for expunctions ever finish the process. And for those who do, they're still not in the clear. Even when public records are expunged, private records still exist in background-check companies' databases and elsewhere online.

Easy Expunctions increases access to legal services

Easy Expunctions harnesses the power of technology to solve each of these problems. "We offer not only the ability to receive a free, nationwide background check, but also the ability to see what a 'before' and 'after' looks like for our eligibility report," says Kassim. "An eligibility report will tell you not only what's on your record, but what qualifies to be removed through expunction."

For those who are eligible, Easy Expunctions guides them through the process to achieve a judge-signed order that permanently removes their criminal record and prohibits the possession or distribution of the record by others. That includes securing all requisite legal documents, filing all necessary paperwork with various governmental agencies, and working with background-check companies to ensure they're compliant with the law.

Importantly, individuals are assigned a dedicated customer service representative and receive a 100% money back guarantee. The company is currently working with citizens in Indiana, Texas, and Florida, with plans to expand soon.

Removing barriers to employment benefits individuals and communities alike

Kassim says he's witnessed a dramatic increase in people embracing legal technology. "When we first started, attorneys were almost allergic to tech as they were leery," says Kassim. "Now, more consumers are turning to online services to handle issues that otherwise would require hiring a legal professional. That's helping to drive innovation in the legal space."

In the case of expunctions, that innovation is closing the opportunity gap for people with criminal records – and making communities safer in the process. 

A Harvard Law Review study found individuals who have their records expunged are more likely to be employed within one year of expungement. Individuals also see their wages increase by an average of 22% within that first year – and nearly 50% within three years.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, removing barriers to employment translates into fewer people reverting to past lives of crime. While, on average, 77% of individuals released from prison are arrested again within five years, the Harvard Law Review study found that only 7.1% of people who have their records expunged are rearrested within five years of expungement.

In other words, everyone stands to benefit when people who have repaid their debts to society are afforded a second chance on life. Thanks to Easy Expunctions, more people and more communities are experiencing those benefits for themselves.

Easy Expunctions is supported by Stand Together Ventures Lab, which invests in and supports founders and their early-stage start-ups that are challenging the status quo.

Learn more about Stand Together's criminal justice efforts.

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