A criminal record in Indiana can follow you past any time served, creating barriers to securing housing, finding employment, obtaining custody of children, achieving professional licensing, and more. In 2011 Indiana passed an expungement law allowing those with a criminal record who meet qualifying criteria to get those records sealed, but the eligibility requirements and process to file for expungement can be a challenge.
To combat those challenges, in 2015, Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana implemented the Legal Expungement Advice Program (LEAP). LEAP is designed to assist participants who qualify based on their type of charge, time since conviction and fee status in filing for the expungement of their records.
The program partners with the Indiana University McKinney School of Law which also allows student attorneys to gain real-life experience.
Aaron Allen, a third-year law student at IU’s McKinney School of Law, has participated in Goodwill’s LEAP for the past three semesters, with plans to continue. Aaron is part of a team that assists program participants with filing the appropriate paperwork with the courts and completing the necessary steps toward expungement.
“Until I joined Goodwill’s LEAP, I did not fully understand the power an attorney has to help people improve their lives,” said Aaron. “One of my clients was attempting to get into nursing but was unable to with a criminal record. Now that their record is expunged, they have the ability to pursue their dream job.”
For many program participants, having their expungement granted lifts a weight and gives them an opportunity to rediscover who they want to be.
“My DOC [Department of Corrections] number is no longer the number that defines who I am,” said a Goodwill LEAP participant. “I am so thankful to Goodwill for giving me the chance no one else would and making the expungement program possible.”
Since its inception, Goodwill’s LEAP team has screened over 400 participants to verify eligibility status. Goodwill’s LEAP has successfully expunged 50 participants who meet the eligibility requirements and have qualifying records and is currently assisting an additional 19 qualified participants with their filing process.
For more information on the LEAP program or to refer a participant, please reach out to Nathan Simpson (email@example.com) or Chris Wass (firstname.lastname@example.org).