Opportunity Port launches in Tuscarawas County

Opportunity Port launches in Tuscarawas County

Users with criminal offenses on their record interested in record sealing complete an online survey.


People with criminal convictions in Tuscarawas County can now get help online with record sealing. Opportunity Port is a free online tool that allows attorneys from Southeastern Ohio Legal Services and the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law to review candidates for record sealing.

Users with criminal offenses on their record interested in record sealing can complete an online survey. Opportunity Port’s service providers, which include staff attorneys at SEOLS and Moritz, review the information and determine whether the user is eligible for sealing.

If the user meets the state requirements for sealing, the service provider will complete the necessary forms and file with the appropriate court in Tuscarawas County. The applicant will represent themselves at the hearing on the application. As part of its pilot program, Opportunity Port will cover the filing fee for applicants assisted by its service providers.

"Record sealing is a critical step in helping people provide for their families," SEOLS staff attorney Ryan Maxwell said. “A criminal record — even one that is decades old — is a huge barrier to employment and housing. Helping people seal an old record provides them with a fresh start. It can lead to better job opportunities and more options for housing.”

Opportunity Port launched in Franklin County in 2021. SEOLS’ sister organization, the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, currently provides record-sealing services through the portal to Franklin County residents with offenses in Franklin County. More than 500 people completed the Opportunity Port survey in its first year. Employment was the most commonly cited reason for seeking assistance through Opportunity Port.

Given that record-sealing assistance through Opportunity Port takes place online and remotely (appointments with service providers are done over the phone), it made sense to pilot the program outside of Franklin County, said Hannah Miller, project manager for the program.

“The goal of Opportunity Port is to reduce the barriers people face when applying for record sealing,” Miller said. “This program is digitally accessible, which is more convenient for rural communities especially.”

The extension of Opportunity Port’s services to Tuscarawas County is funded in part by a Civil Justice Program grant from the Supreme Court of Ohio. To receive record-sealing assistance through the expanded Opportunity Port program, a person must be an Ohio resident and have a conviction in Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court, Tuscarawas County Court Southern District or New Philadelphia Municipal Court.

To learn more about the program, visit www.opportunityport.org. The initial online survey takes five to seven minutes to complete.

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