Photo of Moriah Mendicino

Moriah Mendicino

  • Hosted by Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity
  • Sponsored by Comcast, Duane Morris LLP
  • Service location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Law school Rutgers School of Law - Camden
  • Issue area Criminal Justice Reform, Health Care, Medical-Legal Partnership
  • Fellowship class year 2022
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Moriah’s project aims to move individuals from despair to hope to action by creating “Pardon Projects” for criminal record clearing in Philadelphia’s low-income/high-crime neighborhoods like Tioga-Nicetown and Strawberry Mansion.

Over 100,000 low-income Philadelphians have turned their lives around since they were justice-involved and now merit the second chance that only an expungement or a pardon can give. Unfortunately, many qualifying individuals are unaware of or do not have access to the clemency services best suited for them.

Short-term, pardons and expungements allow formerly justice-involved folks who have paid their debts to society to get out from under the oppressive burden of a criminal record and become eligible for the jobs, loans, and housing they are otherwise forced to live without. Long-term, criminal record clearing can pull people, families, and communities out of poverty and reduce criminal activity, especially violent crime.

Moriah is an urban educator turned public-interest lawyer who has dedicated her professional life thus far to serving and seeking justice for, and alongside, members of Philadelphia’s indigent communities.

Fellowship Plans

By serving as the liaison between Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE) and trusted organizations in Philadelphia’s most high-crime, low-income neighborhoods, Moriah will aid in the development of community-based Pardon Projects where potential clients can receive assistance applying for exonerations and pardons throughout the city. As a result, by the end of 2023, the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons should be receiving 4,000 well-drafted pardon applications from low-income Philadelphians alone, up from just 50 in 2020. Moriah will also recruit, coordinate, and assign volunteer Pardon Coaches to assist in each pardon applicant’s hearing preparation.

Criminal records are shackles keeping people and communities imprisoned long after their sentences have been completed. Cutting those chains has immediate effects on the individual’s self-definition and the hope and energy they have about the future.

Moria Mendicino /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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