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Portland nonprofit provides free services to expunge juvenile records

The nonprofit law firm Youth, Rights and Justice assists with applications, paperwork and can also help people get an attorney.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Having a juvenile record can keep people from getting a job years later. That's why the nonprofit law firm Youth, Rights and Justice in Portland started a new clinic aimed at clearing those people's slates to give them a fresh start. 

Lisa  K. Williams and April Brix work for the nonprofit because they believe in second chances.

"When a record is found, it doesn’t necessarily say, this happened when the person was 14. It just says this is the charge," said Brix. 

"In Oregon, information in these records can be accessed by the public and can be used long after they leave the juvenile court program and successfully complete programs," Williams added. 

Brix and Williams believe kids who have moved beyond their childhood mistakes and are ready to enter adulthood as successful productive members of society, should be able to do that. 

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That's why the nonprofit launched an expunction clinic earlier this week. It's an online service for people wanting to clear juvenile records, which can show up for employers even if someone had contact with police but didn’t need to go to court. 

"A lot of times these are individuals who already employed," said Williams. "They’ve been hired and then something shows up in a background check and the employer says, 'please address this and if you do, we will hire you back.'”

The clinic assists people with applications and filling out forms they'll need. If an application is challenged, the clinic can also help with getting an attorney. So far, the expunction clinic is available to those with records in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties.

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For individuals seeking a fresh start, Williams said access to expunction is vital.

"The main goal of the expunction clinic is to eliminate these barriers so individuals can be successful and our community can be safer," she said. 

Earlier this summer, Oregon lawmakers passed a bill to automatically clear over 5,000 records each year for youth who have records because of contact with law enforcement but were not convicted in juvenile court