NLG Portland Chapter: Expunge Records Oregon Project

By Emilie Junge

We are a group of lawyers, students and volunteers who are helping people expunge their eligible criminal records throughout Oregon. Included in this project are: The Rural Oregon Expungement Project, headed by Michael Zhang, Leni Tupper, Co-director of the PCC Clear Clinic, Emilie Junge, pro bono criminal justice attorney, and numerous students and volunteers. We use Record Sponge, a software program for analyzing criminal records and streamlining the process of determining eligibility. The software was developed by Michael Zhang with a team of volunteer coders and programmers.

The goal of this project is to make expungement available to all Oregonians, regardless of their ability to pay. It further seeks to provide these services in the communities that need them the most. The project is based on the campus of Portland Community College Clear Clinic, but we also conduct community clinics throughout the state. We have conducted expungement clinics in Medford, Albany, Newport, Bend and with the Klamath Tribal community. We also partner with organizations like the Oregon Cannabis Association and many community partners in Portland like North by Northeast Clinic and other BIPOC organizations. 

Through these clinics as well as the PCC Clear Clinic, we assist people in getting their records cleared so that can move on to get jobs, education, housing, and many other opportunities which are blocked by their criminal past. We also train community partners in the use of Record Sponge software. All of this is free of charge.

As a project of the National Lawyers Guild Chapter in Portland, Oregon, this project has and will continue to recruit volunteers, not only from Lewis and Clark Law School, but also from the PCC paralegal program (Taught by Leni Tupper), and from the NLR-PDX Chapter at large. This recruitment has resulted in enthusiasm for the project as part of the decarceration movement in general but also increasing connections with community in need. As a Guild project, it will also present opportunities to recruit new members of the Guild.