Commissioner Larry Suffredin addresses persons attending the expungement meeting.

The first annual Northern Cook County Informational Expungement Expo took place on Saturday, May 21, 2011 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Levy Senior Center, located at 300 Dodge Avenue in Evanston, Illinois. The Expo was a free event to educate the public on the importance and process of clearing adult and juvenile records. Participants were able to talk with attorneys about their records, connecting with community organizations, and hearing presentations about the challenges that criminal record holders face. Various panelists spoke about employment, housing issues, and financial aid and how a criminal background can affect all of this. 

The Northern Cook County Informational Expungement Expo was a collaborative effort of the City of Evanston, the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, Rogers Park-based Project NIA, Youth Job Center of Evanston, Inc., Cabrini Green Legal Aid and the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago, with support from the Evanston Community Foundation. Together they hosted a record 150 people in attendance and 50 people were pre-registered in advance for the event. Larry Suffredin, Commissioner for the 13th district of Cook County, and Enza Raineri from Clerk Brown’s office spoke to kick off the event. Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl made an appearance to support this informational expo. 

Although no records were actually expunged or sealed at the Expo, attorneys and attorney-supervised law students were able to review participants’ criminal histories and help those found eligible to begin the record-clearing process. 

“This event was a great opportunity to give north Chicago and North Shore residents the chance to meet with volunteer attorneys for free to find out their options regarding sealing, expungement, and executive clemency,” stated Jordan Burghardt, Youth Job Center Employment Outreach Coordinator. “We hope that participants got a lot of information out of it and can take any unfinished paperwork to the courthouse and then go to the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s Expungement Expo on June 4th at Apostolic Church of God.” 

The Informational Expungement Expo was a great resource for anyone who lived in or had been arrested in Northern Cook County or other parts of Cook County. For those that might have missed the expo, there will be another expungement expo on June 4th at the Apostolic Church of God.