On Google Trends, Baltimore City and Maryland rank near the top in key word searches for criminal record expungement. However, the Google results for expungement in Maryland are dismal. The sources are either long, legalistic PDFs or mere bullet points that do connect the user to the services needed to determine the steps toward expungement. With this in mind, Advocates for Children and Youth developed ExpungeMaryland.org.
This online tool is based on an app developed by Smart Chicago earlier this year. We intend ExpungeMaryland.org to go farther and help more people. It will be a clearing house of expungement and transitional services for adults and youth that have a criminal record.
What is expungement? Expungement is the legal process to clean up or to make not-public one’s criminal record. In Maryland, individuals that were arrested but not charged with a crime, were not found guilty, or received a handful of other favorable outcomes can file to have their record expunged. Individuals with criminal records—even if they weren’t found guilty—often face hardship finding work, housing, or government services because of this blotch on their record.
Luckily, for many in Maryland, they can expunge their records. However, knowing if you can expunge your record can be difficult, and the filing process confusing. So, we developed ExpungeMaryland.org. The online tool will tell you about the process, how to get your criminal record, and ask a series of binary questions that will let the user decipher if his case is expungeable. If the user finds that their record is likely expungeable, they can send their contact information directly to the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers’ Service for pro/low-bono legal support through the expungement process.
The current version of the app can be found at www.expungemaryland.org. There are a number of things that we are looking to add or improve upon. We will be adding a feedback button on all pages, we will make the hovers look less like hyperlinks, and we will make the list of available services more clear with a header and better structure. That being said, we’d love your feedback. This online tool is our first project of this magnitude, so we invite any and all input. We hope you can join us on July 23 for our Baltimore Civic Hacking Meetup where we will be discussing and sharing this app with the public.