Have you been arrested, have all charges been dismissed, but you still have to explain this to employers? Or were you evicted over two years ago but still struggling to find an apartment?
These recordings can follow you everywhereonline without you even knowing it, visible to employers and potential owners.
Danish LIFT, a collaboration of Madison-based nonprofits focused on social justice and economic equity, developed the Legal Focus Tool, which uses an online process to streamline the deletion of eligible criminal and deportation records.
The idea was born within the framework of the 2019 Dream Up Wisconsin Contest, who decided to invest $ 1 million in technology that could increase household net income by 10% for 10,000 families in Dane County in two years.
Dream Up Wisconsin is a local version of national american dream initiative funded by Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic organization created by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and his wife, Wendy.
“We have used public data that is so often used against people to help correct situations or improve situations that could be barriers to employment, housing, education, child care. and to health “, explained Marsha mansfield, director of the Institute of Economic Justice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and director of LIFT Dane.
In 2019, Legal Update Tool won first prize in the competition.
Although the launch was delayed by the fallout from the coronavirus, Mansfield said his team of lawyers and members of the employment and training services worked with a tech company to tackle three priorities: files suppressable felons or deportation, suspended driver’s licenses and / or pending child support orders.
The first of those priorities is now being addressed through the legal focus tool and Mansfield said the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
“People are happy to have something that is easy to use, that is understandable and can fix something,” she explained.
Here is more information about the tool and how you can use it.
What is the Legal Focus Tool?
The legal tune-up tool allows all Wisconsin residents to see what information from their legal background can be removed from the state’s online court registration system, Consolidated Court Automation Programs (CCAP ), as well as the Wisconsin Online Records Check System (WORCS), a database used by employers and landlords to check the backgrounds of potential employees and tenants.
The tool guides residents through the steps, and it can be used on a computer or phone and is available in English and Spanish.
Residents of Dane County further have the option of seeking legal assistance for their specific case and can also access free employment and training services.
The tool is available on: https://legaltuneup.org/.
How does the tool work?
The first step requires that you enter your name and date of birth on a form, which will then return all eligible records with your name to the CCSI.
To delete CCAP files, you can fill out a form and submit it to the court clerk through the online tool. The process does not require the applicant to mail the form, although you can choose to download and submit the form yourself.
The tool also provides the ability to view records in the WORCS database, although this requires more steps. To search for WORCS, you need to fill out a criminal history form, add your fingerprints to the system, and then send the information by courier. Residents of Wisconsin can get their fingerprints free from the Urban League of Greater Madison or Legal Action of Wisconsin.
Mansfield said they were working to secure locations across the state, including Racine, Wausau and Milwaukee, to ensure these residents have easier access to fingerprinting services.
What types of records can be deleted?
The tool is currently processing criminal and deportation files.
Deportation files that can be withdrawn from the CCAP include cases two years (or older) that have been dismissed and cases for which there was no monetary judgment on file. After details are available here.
Criminal records that can be removed from CCAP include arrests for which you were not charged, charges that were dismissed, acquittals, and mistaken identity cases. Other eligible cases include civil cases which include your personal information if you are threatened. After details are available here.
Which records are considered ineligible?
By law, the tool cannot be used for write-offs or for arrests resulting in convictions. Other cases not eligible for withdrawal include cases where a person was arrested and charged with two offenses and only one was fired.
“Radiation is very difficult to obtain,” Mansfield explained. “They are only for people who have actually served a sentence or probation, having been convicted of a crime, and then they can go back under very specific and specific circumstances to withdraw it.”
Will the tool tackle other types of records in the future?
According to Mansfield, tools to help reinstate driver’s licenses and child support orders will eventually be added.
She said LIFT Dane is currently working with the state Department of Transportation and the Department of Children and Families to access their data so that future users can make requests through an online tool.
What is the long term goal with this tool?
Mansfield said LIFT Dane eventually wants to use the tools to collect data to advocate for policy changes.
“We want to show that the people who are able to erase these records improve, do not reoffend, are not deported and this is the basis for a change in policy,” she said.
How are we? Fill in this investigation and let us know.