LANSING, Mich. – Today, Governor Whitmer signed the bipartisan Clean Slate legislation to reduce the bureaucracy related to clearing old legal records that can block Michigan residents from opportunity. The legislation, supported by the Alliance for Safety and Justice, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, and many in the business community will automate the expungement of certain criminal records after several years. The bill could allow hundreds of thousands of Michiganders – with up to decades of law-abiding behavior – to enhance their ability to gain employment and life stability, providing opportunities to support themselves and their families. Studies show that such policies are effective public safety measures that stop cycles of crime and make communities safer by creating economic stability.
“We’re thankful Governor Whitmer made Michigan’s bipartisan Clean Slate legislation law today,” said Robert Rooks, CEO of Alliance for Safety and Justice, which has worked with state and local leaders to advocate for the legislation. “By clearing old conviction records, Michigan is creating the space for hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents to achieve stability in their lives. Clean Slate will save taxpayer dollars and help create safer communities by ensuring that people can successfully re-enter the workforce.”
Harvey Santana, a former state representative from Detroit who now serves as the Michigan Government Affairs Manager for the Alliance for Safety and Justice, added “The passage of clean slate is an encouraging and important step forward. It provides opportunity for Michiganders with records, and helps make our communities safer.
Aswad Thomas, native Michigander and managing director of Crime Survivors for Safety, said, “I survived a shooting more than ten years ago and want to ensure that what happened to me does not happen to anyone else. This package of bills will help reduce recidivism and promote the health of the state’s economy while improving public safety. Smart policies like this foster healthy families and communities, which are effective to stop cycles of crime.”
Currently, only 6.5% of people eligible for expungements are able to navigate the complex petition process required to access them – a few thousand people each year. The average person that obtains an expungement sees a 25% increase in personal income within two years.
The proposed criminal justice package of bills was introduced last summer.
Priscilla Bordayo, crime survivor and leader with Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice in Lansing said at the bill signing, “This Clean Slate law helps create positive change for victims and their families by giving us a voice in criminal justice policy. After all, we know most profoundly what happens when our public safety system fails us. If we want to make our communities safer, we have to allow people who have made mistakes and paid their debts to earn the opportunities to be stable and take care of their families. As a crime survivor, I believe that there should be accountability when people commit crimes and do harm. I also believe that when people have served their time we need to do everything we can to reduce the risk that they will re-offend which results in fewer victims and safer communities.”
Rep. Graham Filler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said: “We want to ensure that people who have served their time and remained crime free, can have their records cleared so that they can be productive members of the workforce and their communities. Automatic expungements of criminal records will not only help us all have safer communities it will also help stop cycles of crime, something we can all agree is a step in the right direction.”