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Allentown, PA - Aimed at reducing the stigma that people with criminal records face while looking for jobs, education and housing, Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate law expands criminal record sealing to more types of offenses. Starting Friday, an automated computer process will begin wiping cases from public databases. These include charges that were dropped or where individuals were found not guilty, as well as summary convictions and other nonviolent crimes that occurred more than 10 years ago.

Harrisburg, PA - The Federal Trade Commission has finalized the rule implementing a 2018 law that requires the nationwide consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) to provide free electronic credit monitoring services for active duty military consumers.

The Free Electronic Credit Monitoring for Active Duty Military Rule, which will be published in the Federal Register shortly, implements legislation included in the 2018 Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, which amended the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by requiring CRAs to notify active duty military consumers about any “material” additions or modifications to their credit files.

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Ten percent of 60,979 households in Franklin County, Pa., live in poverty, according to a new report released Tuesday by United Way of Pennsylvania.

For some families in Franklin County, financial conditions have improved since 2010, the end of the Great Recession. Yet with rising costs in housing, child care, food and health care, many still find themselves struggling.

YORK, Pa. — Juanita Baxter was 17 years old, pregnant and homeless. "I didn't know how to take care of a child, so I ended up dropping out of school," she said. She eventually got her G.E.D., but she struggled financially for years. "As soon as you get a regular job, your rent goes up, you don't get food stamps," Baxter said. According to the United Way's Alice Report, 1.2 million households in the state earn more than the federal poverty level, but still not enough to pay for basics like housing, food, transportation and child care.

“Civil legal aid in my view works best as a value-add to everything else, whether it’s mental health, health care, substance abuse treatment and recovery,” he said. “Legal aid is a necessary component, because barriers arise to whatever the end goal is, sobriety or living with recovery.”

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Legal Aid attorneys in Northeast Ohio remove hurdles for thousands of low-income clients each year. “We think a lot about the immediate impact,” Colleen Cotter, executive director of The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland said. “Did we prevent an eviction? A foreclosure? Did we make a domestic violence victim safer?” But does that work pay long-term dividends for clients and their families? For the community?

York, PA - To help these men and women get back on their feet, rebuild their lives and reduce recidivism, the York County Reentry Coalition sponsored a Second Chance job fair Wednesday, June 12, at the York County Administrative Center. About 30 companies sent recruiters to meet with more than 200 people having difficulty finding jobs because of their criminal records. "If more people were opening doors and stopped looking at your past history, I think it would be a lot better for the inmates that are coming home, who paid their debts to society and are willing to change and not go back to their bad habits," said Jamar Johnson, a job-seeker at the fair.

Washington, DC - Between 1999 and 2017, nearly 400,000 people in the United States died from overdoses involving opioids and by 2017, over 2 million people had been diagnosed with an opioid use disorder. Legal aid may be the key to facilitating recovery for them. The Legal Services Corporation, a nonprofit organization established by Congress to provide legal services to low-income Americans, shared these facts Monday along with 13 recommendations on how to better integrate legal services in communities to confront this epidemic.

Harrisburg, PA - As a result of the opioid epidemic sweeping the state, more and more grandparents, other family members and neighbors are becoming primary caregivers of minor children when parents are absent. Recent statistics from Grandfamilies.org show that 103,000 children in Pennsylvania live with a relative with no parent present and more than 88,000 grandparents are householders responsible for their grandchildren who live with them. Act 21 of 2018, which went into effect in Pennsylvania on July 3, 2018, expands custody rights for caregivers who find themselves in challenging situations like these.

Pennsylvania Capital Star - Two House lawmakers want the state to automatically expunge the records of anyone fully acquitted of criminal charges or granted a full pardon. The legislation was introduced in February by Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia, and Rep. Tedd Nesbit, R-Mercer, who were joined by their colleagues Wednesday at a Capitol event to promote the bill. “[When] an acquittal is granted, that should be the start of a clean record,” McClinton, a former public defender, said Wednesday.

LANCASTER, Pa., Fox 43 -- Every year in Lancaster County, law enforcement officials say around 200 protection from abuse orders are violated. The Lancaster County District Attorney's Office is trying to decrease that number and prevent violent reactions after PFAs are served.

FindLaw - A "stuck" weather system has led to an especially busy tornado season in the Midwest, with over 500 tornadoes reported in just the past 30 days, from Texas to Pennsylvania. And the storm activity has also led to record to record flooding in portions of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, and seven deaths in Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio. The widespread damage has caught many homeowners off-guard, leaving them to wonder whether their insurance policies cover weather-related damage. Here are five things to keep in mind when it comes to natural disasters like tornadoes and homeowner's insurance coverage.

Health Affairs Blog - Older adults are disproportionately likely to have complex medical needs. Legal advocacy has been recognized as integral to the health and health care of older adults in the medical literature since 1988, and in current Medicare quality metrics. Additionally, since 1965, the Older Americans Act has provided legal assistance as an “essential service” among other aging supports such as nutrition, transportation, and in-home care.

Carlisle, PA - Paul D. Edger, Esquire has been named as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers. Mr. Edger is the Managing Attorney of the Carlisle office of MidPenn Legal Services, a non-profit law firm that represents low-income individuals in various matters as well as victims of sexual and domestic violence. This is the first time he has been selected to Super Lawyers, and the first attorney from his firm named to the list.

Berks MLP Monologue - The U.S. government, through the Social Security Administration (“SSA”), oversees two programs dedicated to the ‘weakest members’ of society who are found to be disabled. These programs - Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) – both provide cash payments to people who meet the federal definition of disabled, but they differ significantly.

The Daily Item — Seniors in Pennsylvania are the victims of $1.2 billion worth of elder fraud each year, according to a recent study from an internet security website. Comparitech, in a study published this week, found that the majority of elder fraud cases in the U.S. go unreported. An estimated 5 million cases of elder fraud in the U.S. annually results in $27.4 billion of losses nationwide, according to the study.

Reading Eagle - Donald Smith Jr. has dedicated much of his professional life to the law. These days, Smith is putting his formidable knowledge of the law to use helping people who have been evicted, sometimes unfairly. He started volunteering at Mid Penn Legal Services in mid-February, providing pro-bono legal services for landlord-tenant cases.

WITF News - "There's a learning curve here between the enactment of the new changes, and when everybody else understands what the limitations are, what can or cannot be asked of the court in an order," says Stephanie Longenberger, an attorney for MidPenn Legal Services who represents PFA plaintiffs in Lancaster County.

PennLive Editorial - Hampden Township Chief of Police Steven Junkin will tell you one of the most difficult and dangerous situations his officers face on a daily basis is responding to calls of domestic violence. From 2008 to 2017, more than 1,200 people died as a result of domestic violence in Pennsylvania. The majority of those tragic deaths were abused women, but the number also included men, children and even law enforcement.

Los Angeles Times - What we need to realize is that liberty demands justice, and justice demands representation in so many life-affecting ways beyond just criminal trials. The lack of having an attorney leads every day to the loss of life’s basic necessities.

CENTRE COUNTY - One of the most important things to remember about the PIT count, she said, is that it’s “just one snapshot” of what homelessness looks like in Centre County. People’s circumstances and finances are always changing, and a person who has housing today might not have housing tomorrow, she said.

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) and its partners are moving forward with the Legal Navigator portal following the completion of the machine learning system that will power it.

The Artificial Intelligence module at the heart of this learning system, new technology developed by Microsoft, will provide an interface that will allow people to describe their problems in their own words. The system will help them decide if it is a legal problem and, if so, how to solve it.

Business Insider - A minimum-wage worker needs 2.5 full-time jobs to afford a one-bedroom apartment in most of the US, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition's (NLIHC) annual report. But that's nothing compared to how many jobs they'd have to work to afford a two-bedroom rental apartment in most of the US — three.

A Driver’s License Restoration Clinic will be held Feb. 15 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the PA CareerLink Carlisle, 1 Alexandra Court. The free clinic is a collaboration between the Cumberland County Bar Association, MidPenn Legal Services, Penn State Dickinson Law and PA CareerLink Carlisle.

POTTSVILLE, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY - (WBRE/ WYOU) Those who receive deliveries from Meals on Wheels in Schuylkill County got an extra treat with their food today. A local organization donated a gift to bring awareness to a greater issue, elder abuse. Stephen Moyer has made food deliveries to homebound seniors as a "Meals on Wheels" volunteer driver for the last three years. "The seniors are very appreciative of us visiting, asking how they are doing," Moyer said. Friday's deliveries, however, had something something extra. Blankets from the Schuylkill Elderly Abuse Prevention Alliance.

"We want to wrap our arms around the community. And we want to make them aware that if they are victims of elder abuse, that they have the ability to use their voice to call us," Eileen Barlow, a board member of SEAPA said.

CLEARFIELD – Clearfield County is seeking over $400,000 in federal funding to provide a safe connections center.

On Tuesday the commissioners approved submitting a grant application and requesting $402,555 through the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women, Justice for Families Program. Once funded, the county would partner with the League on Social Services to provide the day-to-day operations of a safe connections center. It would also permit for civil legal assistance through Mid-Penn Legal Services, according to Lisa Kovalick, community development specialist.

Lancaster, PA - CareerLink has recently held two free criminal record legal clinics for job-seekers, with MidPenn Legal Services, Lancaster Bar Association, Rep. Mike Sturla and the law firm Bentley, Gibson, Kopecki Smith P.C.

Pittsburgh, PA - “No household should enter winter without heat or a safe source of heat. The fact that thousands of our fellow Pennsylvanians are forced to do so is both shameful and completely preventable,” Mr. Cicero said in a statement.

Harrisburg, PA - The first phase of Pennsylvania’s “clean slate” law that seals lower-level, nonviolent crimes from public review has gone into effect.

MidPenn is pleased to announce the publication of it's latest Annual Report.

Speedy Trial 5K

Harrisburg, PA - Executive Director Rhodia Thomas accepted a $2,500 check from the Phi Alpha Delta Pepper Chapter-Widener University Commonwealth Law School. MPLS was a Speedy Trial 5K beneficiary!

Reading Eagle - Two local attorneys were recently honored at the annual Berks County Bar Association’s Pro Bono Celebration for their pro bono work.

Amy B. Good was named Pennsylvania’s Civil Legal Aid Attorney of the Year, a statewide honor that association Executive Director Donald J. Smith Jr. said was a first for Berks. Jeffrey R. Boyd received the county-level Pro Bono Award for his work in Berks.

Reading Eagle - Peighton Schwalm, a senior, interned at MidPenn Legal Services in Reading. She said she learned and experienced things outside of the realm of the classroom. Schwalm said, "through this program, I have gotten to see many aspects of the legal field and I have used these observations to help me determine what I would like to study in college and my potential career path."

PR Newswire - Central Pennsylvania's third annual Whiskey & Fine Spirits Festival will take place Saturday, Oct. 27, from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM at the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum, 161 Museum Dr., Hershey. A VIP session featuring a renowned, seventh-generation distiller will take place from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM, an hour before the Grand Tasting. The event will feature more than 200 premium distilled spirits from world-renowned brands, as well as highly rated, reserve, and small batch products for sampling. The tasting list will feature whiskey, scotch, bourbon, vodka, tequila, rum, gin, cordials, and hand-crafted cocktails.

A portion of all proceeds will benefit MidPenn Legal Services, a United Way-associated 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides civil legal aid to families and individuals living at or below poverty level who face serious hardships in the areas of family law and custody, domestic violence, elder law, and more.

Community Chest to wrap up 2018 campaign

Shippenburg News-Chronicle

Centre Daily Times - Program Manager Beckie Romig said the shelter has steadily grown since it started in 2011 — partly because more people know about Out of the Cold, but she said she also thinks the homeless population has continued to grow.

“Last year we saw a pretty large influx of a much younger demographic, and (we’re) not quite sure why that is. … Some of them, I think, are folks that age out of the foster system and end up on the streets. And some it’s related to addiction, some it’s just related to financial considerations — it’s hard to find a job in this town that can sustain an apartment,” Romig said.

West Reading, PA - Reading Hospital announced that is "Be Well Berks" grant program has awarded funding to five programs that are address health priorities identified in the Community Health Needs Assessment. MidPenn Legal Services was awarded funding to implement a Medical Legal Partnership in Berks County.

Why It’s Hard to Protect Domestic-Violence Survivors Online

The Atlantic - A “no-contact” provision is a common inclusion in many kinds of temporary and permanent restraining orders (or “orders of protection”), and it usually protects an individual from being contacted by another specific individual, directly or through a third party. In the last 10 years, many states have begun specifying in their standard order-of-protection language that digital contact, be it via email or text or social media, is in fact a form of contact.

Generocity - Legislation that would automatically seal the criminal records of low-level, nonviolent offenders passed in the Pennsylvania Senate on Friday afternoon with a vote of 49-0.

Pittsburgh Post Gazette - The costs associated with practicing law on a pro bono basis can be a barrier for some retired lawyers who want to offer free legal services to low-income people. But a new program approved by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is meant to help ease the financial burden.

York Dispatch - The York City Council adopted a resolution in support of expungement clinics during a Wednesday, May 30, news conference at York City Hall. The resolution supports efforts by the York County Bar Association and Harrisburg-based MidPenn Legal Services to educate and assist individuals with criminal records regarding expungement.

The Legal Intelligencer - With a new pilot program coming online soon, attorneys in Pennsylvania will no longer have to split time between earning continuing legal education credits and performing pro bono services for the community, but instead will be able to do both at the same time.

Statecollege.com - The Centre County Board of Commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding in support of the center applying for a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women. CCWRC is partnering on the application with the county's offices of adult services and criminal justice planning, Central PA CareerLink, MidPenn Legal Services and Bridge of Hope.

Centre Daily Times - While it may seem scary to face a tax problem alone, help is available. For some taxpayers, the best option is to hire an attorney, CPA or enrolled agent. For other taxpayers, there are free services available through a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site.

NPR - For Care Connections at Lancaster General Health/Penn Medicine in Lancaster, Pa., housing problems are a key area that requires legal expertise. When someone is fighting eviction, has problems with federal housing subsidies, suffers a utility shut-off or has poor housing conditions, the staff members of Care Connections call on Catherine Schultz. She is a legal aid attorney with MidPenn Legal Services, which has a contract to work on such cases for Lancaster General Hospital.

Public Opinion - The Young Lawyers Division of the Franklin County Bar Association celebrated Law Day with a Mock Trial for county youth.

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