Criminal record clearing: a key to lifting people out of poverty

May 6 Save the Date 5x10

Experts estimate that past convictions create over 40,000 barriers to voting, education, housing, financial opportunities such as employment, and more.

Prison data shows that more residents in neighborhoods with higher rates of poverty were convicted of crimes than were residents of other neighborhoods. In 2016, four out of every 1,000 adults living in areas where the poverty rate was 20% or higher were admitted into Pennsylvania state prisons. In neighborhoods where the poverty rate was below 20%, the incarceration rate was less than one per 1,000. In the same year, 4,411 individuals were released from Pennsylvania state prisons to Philadelphia addresses. Ninety-one (91) percent of those addresses were in high poverty areas. It is estimated that 40 percent of crimes can be attributed to poverty. Over 80% of incarcerated people self-identified as low-income– meaning if you are low-income in America, you’re more likely to become justice involved. 

While there are many different ways in which a conviction negatively affects people, for employment and job opportunities the contrast is stark. Unemployment rates are generally over 5 times higher, and people with criminal records are half as likely as others to get a callback or job offer. With 9 out of 10 employers using background checks for new employees, the sealing or clearing of criminal records is vital to expanding access to job opportunities for formerly incarcerated people.

Southwest CDC- in collaboration with Defenders Association of Philadelphia and sponsored by The Promise- will be holding a FREE record clearing clinic and community event on Saturday, May 6th 2023 at Ezekiel Baptist Church.

To register for our May 6th record clearing clinic and community event, fill out the form at 

If you have trouble registering, would like to have a table at the event, or have any other questions, please contact 

Find a clinic near you at

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