Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE) is a non-profit legal aid organization that focuses on helping people overcome the barriers they face as a result of criminal records.

On July 1st, they will encounter a problem that will severely hinder their ability to efficiently provide expungements within their current 6-12 month timeframe. The new “automatic sealing” of the Clean Slate Law will go into effect, which will remove their access to criminal records. These documents are needed to draft the legal paperwork necessary for an expungement, or a complete erasure of one’s criminal record.

This project involves “scraping” criminal history record information from a publicly-available database and storing it on secure servers only available to PLSE staff for the purpose of expungements. The data will need to be properly organized in order to easily pull up an individual’s full record. This project is the only way they could continue providing quick, life-changing services to Philadelphia communities.

Roles needed

  • User experience researchers
  • Software engineers / data scientists for scraping records
  • Don't fit the above? Join the slack channel, so we can find in something in the project for you!

Project Activity

Update #3

Hi everyone! We need help in a couple of areas:

1) PDF parsing 2) Database development/management 3) Web development

We are going to be parsing PDFs into a database and creating a new "expungement generator." If you're interested, message me on Slack!

Update #2

Hi all! We urgently need some help with our scraping project. Right now, we need people who can read a CSV file and scan for outliers. Once we get through that, we are going to start posting additional tasks in the Slack channel. If you can help, join the conversation on Slack!

Update #1

Hi everyone! Quick update about where we are in this project. I am envisioning it to have three projects nested within it: 1) collecting data and securely storing it; 2) building a new, internal generator that retrieves this collected data to generate expungement paperwork and screen for sealing and pardon eligibility; and 3) potentially linking this generator with our pardon app (in development), which assists people with filling out the pardon application.

At the moment, we are in early stages of the data collecting/scraping. To stay updated on how this progresses, join the Slack channel! I will be posting most of the updates there. Also, send me an email at so that I can send you a volunteer confidentiality form. Looking forward to updating you all soon!