Community Reinvestment Plan - Legal Assistance
A criminal record creates a lifetime of barriers for impacted individuals and their families. The Community Reinvestment Plan recommends funding for civil and criminal legal assistance to provide post-conviction relief and case assistance.
Strategic Investment Areas
The Legislature identified legal assistance as one program area to focus the distribution of Community Reinvestment funding, specifically identifying “civil and criminal legal assistance to provide post-conviction relief and case assistance, including the expungement of criminal records and vacation of criminal convictions.”
The Community Reinvestment Plan recommends allocating funding in this program area through two strategic sets of investments: vacating criminal records and legal financial obligations relief, and legal representation. Decades of federal, state, and local criminal legal system policies and practices that disproportionately target Black, Indigenous and Latino people have made it so that criminal records are more common in these communities.
Vacating Criminal Records and Legal Financial Obligation (LFO) Relief – $2 million
Washington state offers self-help online court forms and instructions for individuals seeking to vacate a felony drug possession conviction or related charges in a Washington State Superior Court, as well as request a refund of legal financial obligation (LFO) payments. By answering questions, these forms generate a completed motion, order, notice, and proof of service forms. Community Reinvestment funding will be provided to the Office of Civil Legal Aid to support the vacating of criminal records and LFO relief. Specifically, OCLA will contract for the development of an automatic criminal record-sealing software to vacate criminal records and resolve LFOs.
Legal Representation – $6 million
The Legal Representation grant program aims to address the needs of Black, Indigenous and Latino individuals impacted by the criminal justice system through several initiatives:
- Outreach and Navigation ($400,000): This initiative focuses on providing immediate relief to individuals not currently impacted by the criminal justice system. It supports outreach and legal navigation initiatives, with an emphasis on peer-to-peer navigation and strategic partnerships. The goal is to establish a unified team actively participating in the development of an automated system and assisting impacted individuals.
- Expansion of General Reentry Legal Services ($4.1 million): This funding enhances the legal reentry capacity within community-based organizations, By and For organizations, and existing legal aid providers. Collaboration with embedded in-house attorneys leverages their expertise in reentry legal services. The program is tailored to each organization’s capacity and includes explicit pathways for engagement beyond the existing CLEAR system. A Community Advisory Board ensures transparency and accountability through regular updates on progress and key performance outcomes.
- Integrated Reentry Legal and Public Defense Services Pilot Program ($1.5 million): This program focuses on integrating reentry legal services with public defense services in targeted areas. Civil reentry attorneys collaborate with public defense attorneys and clients to identify relief and mitigate collateral consequences, such as vacatur, LFO remission, and re-licensure. They work with existing civil legal aid providers and the automated tool project manager to address common concerns.