Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Expunging - Class Action Style!
I've been working at Safe Streets / Strong Communities, located in the 7th Ward neighborhood of New Orleans for two days now. Day 1 consisted mostly of orientation and data entry for over 500 different clients that had previously participated in an expungement workshop held at the organization headquarters. Apparently, Safe Streets was staffed by local attorneys and volunteers for an entire day, who met with a long line of people trying to get past-charges expunged from their records so that they could have access to owning/renting property and better employment opportunities. During orientation, one of the directors at Safe Streets told us how a prior conviction, even if the sentence was minimal, when still on one's record could serve more like a life sentence when it continually works to bar the person from basic necessities in life, like work or a place to live. The work that safe streets does for the community is incredible. Just in being here for the short amount of time that I have, I have heard so many people being passionate about eradicating the injustices constantly geared toward, particularly, African Americans in New Orleans. This became particularly evident when I was sorting through these files, and the majority of the expungement clients fell into this racial category. I'm looking forward to doing more work with the expungements during the week and attending the Safe Streets community meeting next week. The work that this organization is doing is so inspiring, and I feel very fortunate for being placed to work with this organization. As the rest of this trip progresses, I am hoping to become better acquainted with the other programs that they have developed to help the surrounding community.
Posted by Sarah Day at 8:42 PM