The WTVP-TV show At Issue presented a panel discussion of the Illinois State University Expungement Clinic. The panelists included a managing attorney for Prairie State Legal Services, a former client, the Illinois State director of legal studies, and an Illinois State legal studies student. H. Wayne Wilson facilitated the discussion on this weekly public television show.
The clinic is a collaborative project between the Legal Studies Program and the Bloomington office of Prairie State Legal Services. This clinic gives students the opportunity to have hands-on experience, under the supervision of an attorney, preparing court documents to help clients remove negative criminal records from public view. It also advances the university’s mission of civic engagement while introducing students to the importance of pro bono work.
Adrian Barr, the managing attorney for the Bloomington Office of Prairie State, explained how the purging of criminal records of past offenders impacts their ability to be productive members of the community. Vera Traver gave a testimonial of how Prairie State’s expungement project turned around her life. Professor Tom McClure and Illinois State senior McKenna Plotner discussed the role that the legal studies program plays in helping offenders either expunge or seal their criminal records.
The Department of Politics and Government successfully piloted an expungement clinic and proposes to make this initiative a permanent part of the legal studies program. The clinic provides hands-on legal experience to legal studies students who assist low-income individuals seeking to expunge and seal old criminal records. The clinic gives these clients access to employment, rental, and lending opportunities necessary for moving forward with their lives.