Reentry Legal Services (ReLeSe)

ReLeSe is a program dedicated exclusively to serving the reentry population, by helping individuals with criminal records to address civil legal matters that are barriers to community re-integration, working to secure fair and equal treatment for these individuals within the legal system and facilitating successful community and family reunification. From limited-scope legal clinics to full representation cases, ReLeSe confronts and resolves issues that the reentry population encounters most commonly, expungement of New Jersey criminal records.

Criminal Record Expungement program

Who can participate?

Prior experience with criminal record expungement is not required. VLJ has training materials as well as sample pleadings and forms. Volunteers without prior experience are required to review the training materials before volunteering the first time. Volunteers may work with a partner during their first clinic and/or request a mentor to assist with full representation cases. A VLJ staff attorney is present at all expungement clinics to provide assistance and support to volunteers. 

What do volunteers do?

Volunteers provide clients with advice concerning their eligibility to expunge their New Jersey criminal records. Volunteers make this assessment based on clients’ criminal case history (CCH) reports and other supporting documents. If more information is needed before an assessment can be given, volunteers advise clients what additional documents are needed. If the client is ineligible for expungement, the attorney provides the client with advice about expungement law and referral to social service agencies that may be of assistance. Clinics are held the second Tuesday of the month at the Essex County Superior Court, Hall of Records in Newark from 1:30 pm to 4 pm. Attorneys also accept full representation cases for expungement through the clinic or VLJ's case opportunities list. A successful expungement is life-changing legal relief and our volunteers are a vital part of making that change happen.

How to sign up

To become a volunteer with VLJ’s Reentry Program, please fill out VLJ’s volunteer registration form. Please indicate which monthly clinics you are interested in attending. Full representation cases are referred via the clinic or VLJ’s case opportunities list, which is emailed out on the first and third Wednesday of the month. All new volunteers are immediately signed up to receive this email listing of available cases. If you see a case you are interested in, you should email the VLJ staff person on the case list who will then send you conflict information.