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.

The project we are currently working on is building out an expungement petition generator for PLSE. The application takes in PDFs of clients' criminal dockets and returns fully formatted petitions to expunge the clients' criminal records. Having a clear criminal record helps those clients to better find work, housing, and services.

This project is built with React.js, Django, PostgreSQL, and MySQL. A few other tools we use are the Parsimonious python library for parsing PDFs and Digital Ocean for deployment. (This may be marked private, join our Slack to connect with the #plse-expungement team to learn how you can help.

Roles needed

  • Developers with React.js and Django skillsets
  • UX Designers and researchers to improves our user workflow
  • Don't fit the above? Join the slack channel, so we can find in something in the project for you!

Project Activity

Update #6

This project now has an official name: PA eXpunger (PAX)! We also have an open source license now, and once we anonymize our test pdfs we can transfer the project to a public repo.

Currently working on: anonymizing test pdfs; updating the pdf parser to handle a new type of document; allowing batch file processing; additional documentation and organization.

Looking for: a UX designer to tune up the workflow and generally make everything prettier; Python and JS developers to help us continue to build our project. Check out our slack channel if you'd like to join!

Update #5

Over the past year we have: - Updated our documentation - Improved our volunteer onboarding - Fixed a PDF reader bug - Rewritten our entire PDF reading and parsing workflow

We are currently working on: - Supporting a new type of document the lawyers have easier access to - Improving the generate form and petition template to support the new type of document - Supporting uploading multiple documents and generating multiple petitions from them

We need help with: - UX design/research to improve the user workflow - Javascript and Python developers to help us continue working through our backlog

Update #4

Hello! We are currently working on wrapping up the initial build for PLSE and hope to move into maintenance mode by the winter.

The expungement petition generator is mostly together and we are currently working on: - Adding the ability for many of a single client's dockets to be processed simultaneously to save PLSE lawyers time in generating petitions - Getting a specific dataset out of the database PLSE owns - Improving the parser to better read the docket PDFs

Feel free to connect with us on Slack if you want to join us!

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!