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 [email protected].
The BBA hosted its sixth CORI Sealing Clinic at the Brooke Courthouse on July 3rd. Since February, the clinic has assisted more than 50 people seeking to seal their criminal records. As CORIs can be a significant barrier to housing, employment, and educational opportunities, volunteering at the CORI Sealing Clinic is an important way that attorneys can offer their services to the public.
The BBA’s CORI Sealing Clinic takes place the first Wednesday of every month at the Brooke Courthouse. If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact Hannah Poor.
Thank you to Greater Boston Legal Services for partnering with us on the CORI Sealing Clinic!
The BBA’s CORI Sealing Clinic, which launched in January 2019, will have its fifth clinic date next Wednesday, June 5, at the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse. This project, which engages volunteer attorneys in helping low-income clients seal their criminal records through the courts, has assisted close to 40 people over the past four months. We are excited to have volunteers from BBA Sponsor Firm Pepper Hamilton staff the clinic next week!
Such assistance is critical, as prior criminal records can create barriers to obtaining housing, employment, and educational opportunities. Massachusetts law permits people with a criminal record to have their records “sealed” from public view after a waiting period by meeting certain legal requirements. The CORI Sealing Clinic helps those who may not be able to undertake this process without the assistance of an attorney, but cannot afford to pay for counsel.
To learn more about the program, click here. If you are interested in volunteering with the clinic, please email Hannah Poor at [email protected]
Ahead of the Boston Bar Association’s first CORI Sealing Clinic over 50 attorneys and law students attended a training to learn about the sealing process. As many of the potential volunteers were new to this topic, Agapi Koulouris (Department of Criminal Justice Information Services) opened by reviewing precisely what information is kept on a CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) and the visibility of that information to potential employers or housing providers. Following Koulouris, Sarah Joss (Office of the Commissioner of Probation) reviewed the administrative sealing process, which individuals can pursue when they have met the sealing waiting periods. These waiting periods were recently decreased (from 5 years to 3 years for a misdemeanor and from 10 years to 7 years for a felony) with the passage of the Criminal Justice Reform Bill last year. To start, the BBA’s clinic will primarily assist clients with obtaining their CORI and administrative sealing, and then it will transition into assisting clients with sealing prior to hitting their waiting period benchmark. Pauline Quirion and Vanessa Dennis (Greater Boston Legal Services) reviewed that process and also touched on the new expungement laws related to juvenile and certain adult criminal records. David Siegel (New England Law | Boston) moderated the panel and encouraged attendees to volunteer for the clinic.
At the first clinic on February 6th, five clients were assisted by our volunteers. These individuals were seeking help requesting their CORI and navigating the administrative sealing process. We anticipate that a few of those individuals will return to the clinic for follow-up and that we’ll see more clients visit in the coming months.
The clinic will take place every first Wednesday of the month from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM at the Edward Brooke Courthouse. If you or your firm is interested in becoming involved, contact Cassandra Shavney at [email protected]