Re-Entry Legal Services
Are You Formerly Incarcerated and Need Legal Assistance? We Can Help!
Here is How:
Attend Our Re-Entry Legal Clinics
If you have been incarcerated at least 2 months or are currently on supervision in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, we will have attorneys ready to meet with you and help with: child support, traffic tickets, driver’s licenses, TWIC appeals/denials, consumer debt.
Allow Our Attorneys to Represent You
If you are currently on supervision for a felony, live in Orleans Parish, and have returned home from incarceration in the last 6 months you may be eligible for JAC representation. You must also enroll with Goodwill Industries for case management and employment services. If your issue is traffic tickets from before you were incarcerated, JAC attorneys may be able to help you through the Reentry Docket (RED) in Orleans Municipal and Traffic Court.
Attend our Expungement Clinic
If you are trying to have your record sealed from public view, bring your court paperwork (this is your expungement packet from Orleans Criminal District Court OR your bill of information and sentencing minutes from other courts). Screening is first-come, first-served based on our volunteer attorneys. There are no early sign ups or appointments.
Fair Chance Hiring
The Louisiana Fair Chance Hiring Act (Act 406), effective August 1, 2021, restricts employers from asking about an applicant's criminal history on initial job applications. The Act aims to improve job opportunities for individuals with criminal records by delaying such inquiries until later in the hiring process. It applies to state employers, excluding certain positions like those in law enforcement. This "ban-the-box" law helps reduce employment barriers, enabling candidates to be judged first on their qualifications rather than their past. Exceptions exist for positions where criminal history is a legitimate disqualification.
Act 406: Three Obligations for Employers Considering Criminal History
The Louisiana Fair Chance Hiring Act lays out three important obligations for those who consider criminal history when making hiring decisions.
1. The law explicitly states that employers cannot request or consider arrests or charges that did not result in a conviction. This protects individuals from being unfairly judged based on unproven allegations.
2. Employers must conduct an "individual assessment" to determine if a candidate's criminal history directly relates to the specific duties of the position at hand. This assessment must take into account factors outlined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which promotes fairness in hiring decisions.
3. Act 406 mandates that employers provide candidates with copies of their background check reports upon written request. This applies regardless of whether the candidate is ultimately hired or not, ensuring transparency in the hiring process.
Stay informed and compliant with Act 406 – it's crucial for fair and just hiring practices.
JAC's RE-ENTRY & COLLABORATIVE LAWYERING PROJECTS
JAC provides civil legal services to formerly and currently incarcerated individuals. For help with a legal issue, please attend our next Reentry Legal Clinic. Legal Clinics are posted on our events calendar and advertised through social media as they are scheduled. Submit your email below to get updates on when our next legal clinics are scheduled.
JAC Re-Entry Story Project
Have you wanted the public to know your story of reentry? Some of the difficulties you have faced? The success you have managed? Do you have a suggestion on how the criminal justice system could work better for public safety and reentry? JAC focuses on learning more about our criminal justice system from experts and advocates. JAC WANTS TO HEAR FROM YOU, please send your story to us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
What is an Expungement?“Expungement” means removal of a record from public access but does not mean destruction of the record. An expunged record is confdential, but remains available for use by law enforcement agencies, criminal justice agencies, and other state agencies as stated under Louisiana law.
Once my record is expunged has it been erased forever?No, an expungement seals, but does not destroy or erase a record of arrest or conviction. Additionally, some government agencies may still able to view an arrest record even after it has been expunged. They are as follows: The Office of Financial Institutions, the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners, the Louisiana State Board of Nursing, the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry, the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy, the Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners, the Emergency Medical Services Certification Commission, Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions, the Louisiana Department of Insurance, the Louisiana Licensed Professional Counselors Board of Examiners, or any person or entity requesting a record of all criminal arrests and convictions pursuant to R.S. 15:587.1, or as otherwise provided by law.
I cannot afford to pay the $550 in court costs. Can I have the costs waived?YES! The individual has no prior felony convictions anywhere in the country. The individual has no pending felonies. The offense for which the individual was prosecuted ended in an acquittal, motion to quash, or it has been dismissed/refused and the time limit for prosecution has expired. The offense was not dismissed after successful completion of diversion. Besides a fee waiver from the District Attorney, you may be able to file your expungement without paying costs upfront if you complete an In Forma Pauperis (IFP) form, and a judge grants your request. Louisiana law allows this under La. Code of Crim. Pro. art. 983(L). This form means you do not pay upfront, but if your expungement is denied you may have to pay later. This is entirely up to the judge and is within their “discretion” meaning they are not required to grant an IFP, and other agencies who get expungement fees can challenge your IFP before your expungement is granted. Steps to complete your IFP: Check your eligibility. This is based on your income and expenses, so if you receive SNAP benefits, SSI, or Medicaid you are likely eligible. You may also check your eligibility if your household makes less than a certain amount of money per month (125% of federal poverty guidelines). If you think you are eligible, go to a Notary with your ID and an adult witness who knows your financial situation and complete this form: https://www.lasc.org/rules/dist.ct/COURTRULESAPPENDIX8.0.pdf. You must complete all parts, even if it’s a $0 amount. Attach proof of your income and expenses and/or any award letters for benefits. Take your completed IFP form and your completed expungement packet and paperwork to the court and ask the judge to sign your IFP. They may set you for a later hearing date to go back for the signature. You can check your eligibility and begin completing the forms using JAC's IFP app available at: https://jacexpungement.app.law/ifp-affidavit-generator?access_key=weqdqpFWPWVjxwSLMpzJiz7AV
How long does the whole expungement process take?It will take sixty (60) days from the date of fling for all the agencies to respond to your request for an expungement. It may then take additional time for the Louisiana State Police to mail you a Certifcate of Compliance.
I received a First Offender Pardon. Does that automatically expunge my record?No. There are two kinds of pardons that restore certain rights differently. A first time offender is given a First Offender Pardon automatically in Louisiana (some crimes are excluded from eligibility). It does not prevent the State from using your record against you in the future, nor is your record sealed from public view. A First Offender Pardon will restore your civil rights, except for the right to bear arms. A new law went into effect August 1, 2019 that allows someone with a First Offender Pardon and NO convictions since the time it was awarded to be immediately eligible to expunge the felony record (state law usually requires 10 years waiting period). You must have a copy of your First Offender Pardon letter which you can get from your local Probation & Parole office. You should attend a JAC Expungement Workshop or contact an attorney to discuss your eligibility. Clemency, or a Governor’s Gold Seal Pardon, prevents your record from being used against you at a later time for subsequent convictions and returns you to the state you were in prior to arrest. It does not, however, seal the record from public view. Even if you have a Gold Seal Pardon, you must seek an expungement separately.