Expunge VT

Problem Statement

Vermont Legal Aid holds expungement clinics because old records are unnecessarily punishing for vermonters - emotionally & economically. These records interfere with getting a job, housing, food assistance and other aspects of life. VLA's clinics help hundreds of vermonters each year, but since each form is currently completed by hand, it can take hours to process a single person. This project is aimed at generating printable, pre-populated forms in order to help VLA serve more vermonters faster.

Project Summary

Our ExpungeVT effort begins with a simple, non-invasive project that will allow Vermont Legal Aid to automatically generate the printable forms required for expunging a record.  If we can help VLA print forms instead of filling them out by hand, we may be able to shave an hour or more off the process for each client served at an expungement clinic.

We will accomplish this by creating a browser plugin that will populate the correct form with the necessary information and display it as an HTML page.  The attorneys will review the form, print and sign it. 

Creating online tools to identify or reconcile expungeable records is significantly complicated by the fact that Vermont does not yet provide free digital access to it's public criminal records.  Like many legal organizations, VLA uses a third party vendor to get digital access to public records so Code for BTV needed to find a way to help, while respecting the agreement between the vendor and the judiciary.  We chose to use a browser plugin because it does not require storing or processing the licensed information outside the browser, and no persistent information is created.

We hope that this project will be helpful and well received, and that it may be the first of many efforts to make it easier for vermonters to clear old records that encumber their lives.