On the Launch of Expunge.io

We host a lot of apps at Smart Chicago through our Developer Resources program. In many instances, we get a request, fire up an EC2 instance, and the site is off and running. In other instances, we provide hours of behind-the-scenes technical assistance, product advice, and general jibber-jabber. Other times, we conceive of and execute on the thing on our own, or develop a site for clients.

Today’s launch of Expunge.io by Cathy Deng and the Mikva Challenge Juvenile Justice Council (JJC) is in a category all by itself. The site, which helps start the process of erasing juvenile arrests and/or court records, is pretty much why we exist. For us, it grew naturally out of work we did over our CivicSummer, interacting with youth on the JJC about what interested them, where their research took them, and what issues mattered most to them.

Then, as summer became autumn, I talked on a regular basis with the intrepid and indefatigable Chris Rudd about the need for an app that helped sort out the essential but obtuse process of expungement.

He never gave up, he never stopped talking about it, and he never stopped learning. We talked about how the core of the app was not the technology— it was the info that he, the JJC youth, and their partners like the people at the Juvenile Expungement Help Desk had and had to share.

Then comes Cathy Deng, a super-smart developer looking to do civic apps that make a difference. We had invited her to join us at our final #CivicSumer session at Roosevelt University, where she got a feel for what everyone was up to and connected to people on Twitter. Then came this:

We set them up with space, and Smart Chicago tech consultant & general civic tech godfather Scott Robbin provided some tech guidance. Mikva Challenge Executive Director Brian Brady supported all of this with the vision of a creative organization not bogged down by process. The legal partners and justice system personnel have been highly supportive.

So here we are today. If you know anyone with a juvenile record and 4 minutes of extra time on their hands, send them to Expunge.io now.