Legislation improves public safety and gives reformed citizens access to better job opportunities
A bipartisan plan announced today would expand Michigan’s expungement laws and give hundreds of thousands of residents with old, low-level criminal convictions the ability to start fresh, have expanded job opportunities, and become productive members of their communities.
State Rep. Bronna Kahle joined the bipartisan group of bill sponsors as they unveiled the legislation today during stops in Detroit and Kalamazoo. In a show of widespread support, she was joined by legislative colleagues from both the House and Senate, local business leaders and county prosecutors, as well as Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell.
“It’s time to give people a chance to move on from their mistakes and that’s exactly what these reforms support,” said Kahle, of Adrian. “Removing obstacles for all citizens in Michigan gives them a path forward and the opportunity to positively contribute to our communities.”
Michigan’s current expungement law allows people with certain convictions to petition for the expungement of one felony or two misdemeanors after being free of contact from the court system for a minimum of five years.
“This package will strengthen our economy because thousands of people will become more employable at a critical time when job providers are in dire need of a ready, able and reliable workforce,” stated Kahle. “This plan will also make our communities safer because a steady, well-paying job is one of the best ways to ensure people live productive, crime-free lives”.
The six-bill legislative package:
- Expands the number of people who qualify for expungement. A person with up to three felonies may apply to have all their convictions set aside if none of the convictions are for an assaultive crime. If the person has an assaultive crime on their record, they can apply to have up to two felonies and four misdemeanors set aside.
- Establish automatic expungement for certain offenders. This would be available to people who would otherwise qualify for expungement via petition if none of the convictions are for an assaultive crime or serious misdemeanor and all are punishable by less than 10 years imprisonment.
- Allow for the expungement of marijuana convictions. People with misdemeanor marijuana convictions would be able to petition to have the convictions set aside if the behavior that led to the conviction is permissible under current law.
- Allow forgiveness for acts committed during “one bad night.” For the purposes of expungement, crimes similar in nature that were committed in the same act may be treated as a single felony if none of the crimes were assaultive, none of the crimes involved the possession of a weapon, and none of the crimes had a maximum penalty greater than 10 years.
- Allow for the expungement of some traffic offenses. Offenses such as DUI/OWI and other traffic crimes causing serious injury or death would not qualify.
- Shorten the eligibility period for expungement. Under the plan, an application to set aside more than one felony could be filed after seven years; an application to set aside a “serious misdemeanor” or single felony could be filed after five years; and an application to set aside other misdemeanors with no felonies could be filed after three years.
The bipartisan legislation will be formally introduced in the Michigan House in the coming days.