Event showcased new legal resources for expungements

LANSING — Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, Attorney General Dana Nessel, Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack and Michigan House Judiciary Committee Chairman state Rep. Graham Filler (R-DeWitt) participated in an April 12 online event marking the start of expanded access to expungements in Michigan.

They were joined by national Clean Slate Initiative Managing Director Sheena Meade, City of Detroit Project Clean Slate Lead Attorney Stephani Labelle, Michigan Advocacy Program Manager of Legal Services Delivery Shannon Lucas and Safe & Just Michigan Executive Director John S. Cooper.

The event was sponsored by Safe & Just Michigan.

Expungements, also known as set-asides, shield old criminal records from view after a person has lived several years crime-free, and have been shown in studies to pave the way to higher employment rates, greater earning potential and lower recidivism rates.

The Clean Slate legislative package, signed into law on Oct. 12, 2020, comprises seven laws, six of which took effect on April 11. The laws now in effect concern the process of getting an expungement by petitioning a judge. Changes include allowing traffic offenses to be expunged for the first time ever in Michigan, increased opportunities for the expungement of marijuana offenses, allowing people to receive a greater number of expungements and reducing the time people must wait before petitioning for an expungement, among others. 

The final new law, automating the petition process in many cases, won’t come into effect until late 2022 at the earliest.

Gilchrist supported the Clean Slate legislation in its journey through the legislature, testifying on its behalf before the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee in 2020.

The Clean Slate Kickoff introduced new free and low-cost legal resources provided by nonprofit organizations:

• Michigan Legal Help: https://michiganlegalhelp.org/self-help-tools/crime-traffic-and-id/i-have-adult-criminal-conviction-i-would-set-aside-expunge

• Michigan Legal Aid intake: https://michiganlegalhelp.org/call_intake_intro or 888.783.8190

• Michigan Attorney General Office’s Expungement Resources: mi.gov/agexpunge

• Michigan Supreme Court Clean Slate: https://courts.michigan.gov/News-Events/Pages/CleanSlate.aspx

Safe & Just Michigan works to advance policies that end Michigan’s over-use of incarceration and promote community safety and healing.

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