Thousands of people in the Branch have arrests, convictions are damaging their job chances

Stephen Williams

PHILADELPHIA – Thousands of Philadelphians have been arrested or convicted, which could be a barrier to employment, according to The Promise, a public-private coalition to fight poverty funded by the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey in partnership with the city.

Starting Saturday, the NOMO Foundation will host the first of 30 record-breaking clinics from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 1212 S. Broad St. Other clinics will host 18 nonprofit groups that have received grants from The Promise to conduct clinics in their community. This is part of a pilot program that will run until June.

The rest of the schedule can be found on the website:

More clinics will be added to the schedule as they are confirmed.

Legal clinics will be run by Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Justice (PLSE), Public Legal Services (CLS) and the Philadelphia Defenders Association.

“Promise focuses on removing barriers to ensure and stabilize life and increase income. Removing past convictions creates opportunities in the workforce, which in turn helps break the cycle of economic hardships that hold back so many Philadelphians, ”said Michael Banks, CEO of The Promise. “With clinics located throughout the city, the Labor Work and Opportunities Challenge will help Philadelphians gain easy access to legal aid to begin the process and start moving forward.”

People who have been imprisoned face unemployment that is five times higher than average. But arrests and convictions affect more than just work.

Despite the fact that black Americans make up 12.6 percent of the total population, they account for 27 percent of all arrests. In addition, black Americans with a criminal record are 50 percent less likely to offer a job, according to The Promise.

It’s not just work, it is estimated, past convictions create thousands of barriers to education, housing, business and financial opportunities, professional licensing and more. The barriers cost the U.S. economy about $ 327 billion in wage losses and about $ 87 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) losses, or the total of all goods and services produced in the U.S. annually.

In each clinic, a group of legal services will review a person’s legal documents and give an idea of ​​the services needed to clean up their documents.

30 days after the lawyer has fully reviewed the identity document, the legal service provider will explain the services available to the person, including applying for a write-off, applying for a pardon or, if necessary, to a lawyer. Clinics are not designed for quick fix, but the first most necessary step in the process.

“The Work and Opportunities Initiative builds on the work done by all three law firms, but expands it to reach far more people with the potential to create a much greater impact that changes the game,” said Taylor Pacheco, Philadelphia’s deputy chief executive. Lawyers. for social justice. “It’s an ambitious and powerful approach to tackling a widespread problem.”

In addition to NOMO, other agencies receiving grants from The Promise include: the African Cultural Alliance of North America (ACANA); Beyond literacy; CEIBA; Philadelphia Community College; Community of Compassion CDC; East Northern Philadelphia Labor Development Corporation; Elevation Project; EMIR Medical Center; Institute of Public Justice; JEVS Human Services; New Kensington Community Development Corp .; Philadelphia Revenue Fund; Reawakening Agency; Revolutionary Vision CSC; Southwest Community Development Corp .; Uplift Solutions; and the Philadelphia City League.

In addition to clinics, The Promise will run an information campaign for city residents with a criminal record to take advantage of the clinic’s free legal advice and to inform the public about the impact of past convictions on the local economy.

Founded in Philadelphia, The Promise is an anti-poverty fund designed to lift 100,000 people out of poverty.

Stephen Williams is a Philadelphia Tribune reporter, where this story first appeared.

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