Criminal records are often an obstacle to qualified individuals obtaining housing or employment. And since having a job and a permanent place to live are correlated with successful re-entry, individuals with a publicly-accessible CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) record have greater rates of recidivism.
The Boston Bar Association highlighted the importance of reforms to the length of time that people must wait before their CORI can be sealed, along with other key criminal justice reforms, in our 2017 report No Time to Wait: Recommendations for a Fair and Efficient Criminal Justice System. The report advocated for a reduction in the amount of time individuals must wait to seal their CORI records. In 2018 the Massachusetts Legislature, with the support of Governor Charlie Baker, did indeed reduce the waiting time to seal criminal records; the previous wait time of five years to seal misdemeanors was reduced to three years, and the wait time of ten years to seal felonies was reduced to seven years.
This past February, the BBA launched a CORI Sealing Pilot Project in partnership with Greater Boston Legal Services. The project relies on volunteer attorneys, who assist low-income clients in obtaining, reviewing, and, if eligible, sealing and expunging their CORI records. So far, the CORI Sealing Clinic has helped more than 50 individuals seeking to seal their criminal records. This is a critical service, as sealing can remove or mitigate the barrier that CORI records pose to obtaining housing and employment. Thank you to our partners, Pepper Hamilton LLP and Sullivan & Worcester LLP for collaborating with us on this project and engaging their attorneys as volunteers.
The Boston Bar Association’s CORI Sealing Clinic takes place the first Wednesday of each month from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Boston Municipal Court – Central Division (24 New Chardon Street, 2nd Floor). The clinic would not be possible without the help of our volunteer attorneys. These attorneys can have a life-changing impact when they assist in sealing records. Volunteering also allows attorneys to connect with fellow practitioners and gain clinic experience in a new area of law.
Volunteers will be trained in advance on CORI laws and procedures and are able to sign up for the clinic dates that work best for their schedules. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Hannah Poor at firstname.lastname@example.org.