Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday signed a package of bills designed to reform the state’s process for expunging past criminal convictions. The ‘Clean Slate’ bills, as the legislative package of six measures is known, was passed by Michigan lawmakers last month.
“This is a historic day in Michigan. These bipartisan bills are a game-changer for people who are seeking opportunities for employment, housing, and more, and they will help ensure a clean slate for hundreds of thousands of Michiganders,” Democrat Whitmer said in a press release. “This is also an opportunity to grow our workforce and expand access to job training and education for so many people. I am proud to sign these bills today alongside Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist and many of the bipartisan leaders who worked on them.”
The Clean Slate bills include a measure that allows for the expungement of previous convictions for marijuana offenses no longer illegal under state law. Michigan voters approved legislation to legalize the recreational use of cannabis in 2018 and legal retail sales began in the state late last year.
Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, also a Democrat, said the bills would help reduce the collateral damage that comes with convictions for minor crimes and provide economic opportunity for past offenders.
“This anti-poverty, pro-job opportunity Clean Slate legislation will reinvigorate the economic potential of hundreds of thousands of Michiganders whose records have hindered their availability to get a job or secure housing, and it will help us grow our workforce,” said Gilchrist. “This is the right thing to do on behalf of people everywhere who deserve another chance, and will help improve livelihoods. There is more work to do, but Michigan has now established itself as a leader in removing barriers to economic opportunity for people who have made mistakes. I will continue to stand tall for Michiganders across the state who need someone in their corner.”
Bills Offer A Second Chance
“Everyone deserves the chance to build a good life for themselves and their families. But far too many people enter the criminal justice system and end up cut off from those opportunities and are pushed toward a cruel cycle of poverty and crime. That’s not right, and it creates bad outcomes for all of us,” Republican House Speaker Lee Chatfield added. “These bills are an important step to righting that wrong and helping good people who’ve paid their debt get back on their feet. I am glad we were able to find common ground on this important issue and deliver reform that will help people statewide.”
Other provisions of the package allow for the automatic expungement of eligible misdemeanors after seven years and eligible nonviolent felonies after 10 years. The measures also increase the number of crimes and traffic offenses eligible for expungement and allow some convictions that include multiple violations of the law at the same time to be treated as one offense.
“With the signing of these bills, Michigan becomes a national leader in empowering citizens to lead productive lives,” said Democratic state Rep. David LaGrand. “Michigan will be the first state in the nation to expunge some felonies automatically. I have planned to do everything I can to encourage other states to follow Michigan’s lead.”
The automatic expungement process authorized by the bills is scheduled to be up and running by 2023.