Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed a sweeping reform package that will allow thousands to expunge their criminal records after they’ve served their sentences.
The legislation enables thousands of people who’ve been denied housing, employment and other opportunities because of past criminal convictions to clear their records.
Many offenses range from traffic violations to marijuana charges that were imposed before recreational use was legalized in 2018.
Michigan’s law also covers some past felonies, making it the most comprehensive expungement system in the country.
“This is transformative,” says Rep. David LaGrand (D-Grand Rapids). “This is anti-poverty, this is pro-public safety. But it is mostly pro-dignity.”
State Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit) echoed that sentiment.
She says she’s talked with people who’ve resorted to crime because they felt they had no other avenues available to them.
“When you lock people out of opportunity and you lock them out of jobs, they have no other recourse in some instances,” Gay-Dagnogo says. “And so now today, a bipartisan package which opens up the floodgates for people to work…that’s what today is about.”
The law automatically expunges misdemeanors seven years after sentencing. Felonies will be expunged either 10 years after sentencing or the offender’s release from incarceration, whichever comes last.