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Sealing Records Means a Second Chance

*Name changed to protect the identity of the client

The DC Bar Foundation is proud to fund DC legal services organizations that support and uplift community members in need. One of those organizations is Rising for Justice, whose mission is to leverage the collective forces of students and experienced advocates to achieve justice for all. Since its founding, Rising for Justice has protected the rights of more than 250,000 District residents and has trained almost 4,000 social justice advocates. Their work includes law school clinics, eviction defense services, civil protection order work, social work, and expungement. Read on to learn more about how their expungement services make new paths in life possible for clients like Tom*.

Tom is an army veteran who served in the U.S. military for twelve years. He has only one arrest and subsequent court case on his record, but this has held him back from many opportunities in life.

Following military service, Tom earned a Ph.D. in social work, aiming to continue to give back to the community at every turn. After being arrested and finding himself involved in the criminal justice system for the first time, he immediately took responsibility for the offense and completed a diversion program, which disposed of the case. However, the negative consequences of this arrest, which include the continuation of public access to his arrest record, have persisted to this day.

The stigma and shame that Tom associates with his record led him to forego renewing his clinical social work license. Further, despite winning awards for outstanding job performance before the arrest, he has been overlooked for promotions since then. He is terrified of the prospect of applying for a new job because of his record.

The pro bono attorney assigned to Tom's case filed a well-analyzed and beautifully-written motion to seal his criminal record. Rising for Justice is confident that the motion will be granted, allowing Tom to pursue employment opportunities once again with confidence and dignity. Rising for Justice knows that Tom, and all others, are deserving of a second chance, and the Foundation is proud to support their expungement work.


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