For Philadelphia citizens returning from incarceration, outstanding traffic fines and driver’s license suspensions can present a major barrier to employability and reintegration into society. This project focuses on finding solutions to these problems.
Our report, “Proposed solutions for Improving the Experience of Returning Citizens with the Philadelphia Traffic Division,” prepared by Justice Lab students in spring 2016 for our client, Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity, discusses a number of proposals, including converting outstanding fines to time served or to community service; simplifying Traffic Division materials, and making sure that they include understandable information about the availability of payment plans for traffic fines; educating returning citizens on how to navigate the Traffic Division process; and more.
By way of follow-up, students are surveying Philadelphians at expungement clinics and other community events in order to gather more data about the experiences of returning citizens with traffic issues. The students are also developing a pilot legal services program through which PLSE will offer direct help to returning citizens, with the hope that the program will eventually be implemented around Pennsylvania.
Justice Lab students are also working with the office of the Montgomery County Public Defender, which has asked us to help develop strategies to incorporate reentry into the Office’s holistic approach to criminal defense. Students are focusing on early interventions, including at the pre-trial phase, for individuals charged with crimes. Students are connecting with critical stakeholders, including lawyers and other service providers inside and outside the Office to fully understand the impact of incarceration on Montgomery County residents.