“Grow a Vibrant Economy” is one of the priorities identified in the county’s Performance Clackamas plan. It can be a challenge for hiring managers to find skilled and motivated employees to power that economy, though – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A related problem is some county residents who really want to work are challenged by criminal records. Even a low-level offense – or an arrest without a conviction – can interfere with housing, employment and educational opportunities, as well as other issues like not being able to be a foster parent or volunteer in your children's schools.
Enter the Clean Slate Clackamas Project, a partnership currently led by the Clackamas Workforce Partnership, funded through a grant from the Bob Barker Company Foundation, and including the county’s Children, Family & Community Connection Division; the county sheriff’s Community Corrections Division; the Oregon Department of Human Services’ Self-Sufficiency Division; and local volunteer attorneys.
The project runs clinics twice each month, offering free legal services to people in the Clackamas County area seeking to expunge or “remove” criminal charges from legal records. The goal is to increase county residents’ ability to achieve personal and economic stability.
Clean Slate Clackamas clinics are held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the county’s Children, Family & Community Connections offices at 112 11th Street in Oregon City.
Limited walk-in appointments are available, but pre-eligibility screening is highly recommended, since only certain criminal records – such as non-violent misdemeanors and low-level felony charges – can be expunged. Interested residents are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
County Children, Family & Community Connections Job Development Specialist Doug Vanzant has played a key role in ensuring the clinics run seamlessly.
“I’ve been involved in all phases of the process – conducting pre-screenings, taking fingerprints, generating documents for court motions … you name it,” Vanzant said. “I’ve personally helped 190 people to date.”
“It’s a passion of mine to help people overcome barriers to employment and housing,” he added. “It opens up so many opportunities.”
Another county employee, Community Corrections Employment & Training Specialist Shauna Kennedy, made an impression on one of the volunteer attorneys at an April expungement clinic. Shauna’s computer savvy made her very efficient in processing expungement applications and enjoyable to work with, the attorney said.
The partnership has run seven clinics so far this year and processed over 200 expungements, changing countless lives.
A recent program participant, Jayme, told the Clackamas Workforce Partnership, “It’s crazy to think about just how life changing this will be. It’s been such a heavy burden to carry the last ten years while trying to rebuild my life. For it to no longer be an issue, to not have to stress about it constantly, to not have to alter almost everything in my life … and to get to live as the person I am today is so transcending it’s difficult to put into words.”
Clackamas Community College will join the partnership during the 2022-2023 program year. CCC’s proposed contributions include hosting a clinic at one of its campus locations, providing outreach and volunteer recruitment, and researching a fine forgiveness program.
For more information, visit the Clackamas Workforce website.