The funnel into the criminal justice system in the United States is wide-reaching and only growing wider: Crime rates have dropped categorically in Pennsylvania over the past 40 years, but more Pennsylvanians have criminal records than ever before.

For many, having come into conflict with the criminal justice system means a lifetime of susceptibility to socioeconomic despair. Decades of discriminatory housing, employment and education policies have prevented even non-violent offenders from successfully re-entering society, and without work, shelter or the means to advance economically, the probability of formerly incarcerated individuals going back to prison is extremely high.

Expungement and sealing can provide much-needed relief for those who qualify. On March 25, Lebanon County Female Opportunities Re-Entry program (F.O.R.E.) will host an information session on criminal record sealing and expungement for those who need help navigating these complicated processes.

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The session will be held from 1-4:00 p.m at Lebanon CareerLink on Schneider Drive.

“Through increasing access to expungement and record sealing, F.O.R.E and Careerlink hope to reduce the impact that past mistakes can have on the future success of people in re-entry, their families, and our community,” a joint release on the session reads.

Read: Bipartisan-supported “Clean Slate” legislation now in effect, seen as win for recidivism reduction

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Pennsylvania’s “clean slate” law, which went into effect in late 2019, streamline record sealing for non-violent offenses, effectively lowering barriers to employment and housing for those individuals.

This interactive map, maintained by the state Department of Corrections, can be used to locate similar employment services specific to formerly incarcerated individuals.

Knowing whether or not an employer is open to hiring re-entrants can be a preventative force on the path back to work for many job-seekers with criminal records. FORE has published a list of potential employers in Lebanon County specifically for job-seekers with records. Access that list here.