January 23, 2024
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By Carrie Stetler (Rutgers-Newark)

Rutgers Law School alumna Sarah Lageson '23 has spent years researching how online access to criminal records—including expungements that are granted but not made public for years–can damage lives and perpetuate inequality.

Lageson, an associate processor at the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice, is the author of “Digital Punishment: Privacy, Stigma, Harm and the Harms of Data-Driven Criminal Justice,’’ which in 2021 won an award from the American Society of Criminology. Her research has been used to help shape state policy, such as New Jersey’s Clean Slate bill of 2019, intended to automatically expunge the records of those who haven’t committed an offense in 10 years or been convicted of serious crimes.

But after hearing the stories of people who were impacted by erroneous or decades-old criminal records, often for minor crimes, Lageson decided to help in a more personal way. Last year, she received a degree from Rutgers Law School so she could fight the problem in court.

“It was a way to bring the research into practice and do the lawyering skills required to do expungement,” said Lageson. “It feels good to take my knowledge and not only apply it in a policy context but  help people more directly. It’s been an amazing opportunity.’’

To that end, she worked as a student with Rutgers Law School’s Expungement Law Project (ELP), which this fall helped prepare a class action lawsuit filed by the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender against the New Jersey State Police for failing to process nearly 50,000 expungement orders. 

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Rutgers Law Media Contact:
Shanida Carter

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