PLSE provides free legal advice and representation to low-income Philadelphia residents whose criminal records are holding them back from achieving their social and career potentials. PLSE seeks a more equitable social environment for those with criminal records through individual representation, strategic litigation, community education, research, and advocacy. PLSE does this by seeking expungements in criminal court and pardons from the Governor; educating elected, business, and community leaders; empowering and organizing under-resourced communities; and leading legislative, administrative, and systemic reform.
PLSE empowers under-represented and under-resourced communities not only so that they can better address the problem themselves, but also advocate for changes in the criminal justice system that has so routinely, and for so long, deprived Black and Brown people in particular of justice. In some of Philadelphia’s low-income, high-arrest, predominantly minority neighborhoods, almost 60% of adults have criminal records. They can only move forward by erasing the criminal records that deny them jobs, educations, licenses, careers, housing, finances, and the ordinary opportunities of life. This is important: a justice system that holds people accountable and redirects them back to work and wellbeing leads to stronger and more prosperous families and communities.