On Sept. 9, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers introduced Clean Slate legislation to Michigan. If passed, this legislation will be crucial in helping people who have a criminal record and who have lived crime-free for years. This package of legislation would increase the number of these people who would become eligible for an expungement, and in many cases, make that expungement automatic.  As a founding member of the Michigan Clean Slate Campaign, we at Safe & Just Michigan are very pleased to see this day.

Some highlights of the Clean Slate legislative package include:

  • An expansion of the number of offenses eligible to be expunged. Currently, only one felony and two misdemeanors can be set aside. If the new legislation passes, that limit will increase to two felonies or up to four misdemeanors, and more if none of the convictions are assaultive.
  • A mechanism would be created to automatically clear two felonies or up to four misdemeanors from someone’s public criminal record after 10 years, if all of those offenses are non-assaultive.
  • The state would create a process to set aside marijuana sentences for misdemeanor convictions for conduct that would have been legal after the 2018 referendum legalizing recreational marijuana.
  • Multiple convictions for certain offenses that happened during “one bad night” would become eligible for expungement as a single offense.
  • For the first time, most traffic offenses would become eligible for expungement.
  • Wait times to become eligible to petition a court for an expungement would be reduced. The waiting period to petition for a misdemeanor expungement would become three years. People could petition to have a felony expunged after five years and a second felony after seven years.

Members of the media interview lawmakers and supporters of Clean Slate legislation as the bills are unveiled in Detroit on Sept. 9, 2019.

Petitioning is a separate process than an automatic expungement. Even if someone opts against petitioning for an expungement, their record would still be automatically be expunged if the bill for automatic expungement passes and their record makes them eligible.

Since the bills enjoy bipartisan support, we anticipate the legislation will move quickly through the legislature. They are expected to have a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Sept. 24. We will keep you up-to-date on the legislative process, so please keep in touch with our social media on Twitter and Facebook to hear the latest.

State and national media is also paying attention to the Clean Slate effort. Here is what they’re saying:

Lawmaker introduces bill to expand state’s expungement laws for low-level convictionsWJBK TV Channel 2 Detroit, Sept. 9

DETROIT (FOX 2) – Tamika Mallory said she was about 20 years old when she got into legal trouble.

“…probably about 20 years ago and I made some mistakes,” said Mallory.

And those mistakes have impeded her ability to pursue any life goal.

“I have 2 misdemeanor marijuana convictions and a traffic violation. I went to the expungement program and tried to get my record expunged,” she said. “They wouldn’t expunge it.”

Mallory is one of hundreds of thousands of people with low-level criminal convictions that may be facing legal relief in the coming months. A lawmaker wants to expand Michigan’s expungement laws, giving people like Mallory a second chance.


State lawmakers push bipartisan expungement reform plan – Detroit News, Sept. 9

“A group of state lawmakers on Monday unveiled a bipartisan legislative reform package aimed at clearing the criminal records of more of Michigan’s ex-offenders.

The bill, sponsored by lawmakers including Reps. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, D-Detroit, and Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, would remove barriers allowing automatic expungement for certain offenders, cover more offenses and shorten the eligibility period.”

… “”People who have committed crimes should be punished in a manner appropriate to the harm they have caused,” said David Guenthner, a senior strategist for state affairs with the Mackinac Center, in a statement. “But once people have completed their sentences and shown over time that they are dedicated to a law-abiding path, they deserve the opportunity to get out from under their past mistakes.”


Michigan bills would make more ex-offenders eligible to have criminal records expunged – Detroit Free Press, Sept. 9

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers is proposing sweeping changes to Michigan’s expungement process that would significantly expand who’s eligible to get their criminal history wiped clean from public records.

Proponents of the reform say the current law, which allows people to apply to have one felony conviction or two misdemeanors set aside after five years, is too restrictive. A package of six bills would make the process automatic for some convictions while also opening up expungement to people with multiple felonies and low-level traffic offenses.

… (Xavier) Owens said his criminal record has precluded him from jobs, housing and volunteer programs. He works for a car rental company and aspires to work in technology, but he hasn’t found an employer in the sector who will look beyond his record.

“I made a mistake at a younger age and it’s still affecting me,” Owens said. “It literally seems like there’s nothing I can do about it.”


Bills would make more Michiganders eligible for expungement – Michigan Radio, Sept. 9

A bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers says it’s time to change state law and let more people expunge their criminal records.

Current state law only allows people convicted of certain offenses to expunge one felony or two misdemeanors. Lawmakers say that’s too narrow, and keeps too many people from really getting a second chance—especially when it comes to getting a job.

… “Are we going to be a state that stands up, and makes sure that we ensure that our criminal justice system truly lives up to that word, justice?” (state Rep. Yousef) Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) said. “So that folks that have done their time, that have served their sentence, are now able to come back into our community and do good work.”


State representatives unveil bipartisan plan to improve Michigan’s expungement laws – Hillsdale Daily News, Sept. 10

LANSING — A bipartisan plan announced today would expand Michigan’s expungement laws and give hundreds of thousands of residents with old, low-level criminal convictions a new opportunity to start fresh.

State Rep. Graham Filler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and the bipartisan group of bill sponsors unveiled the legislation today during stops in Detroit and Kalamazoo. In a show of widespread support, they were 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.

… “Expungement of criminal convictions from the public record is an important part of creating a society where justice is focused on rehabilitating offenders,” (state Rep. David) LaGrand (D-Grand Rapids) said. “People who make mistakes, but who have turned their life around, shouldn’t be given a life-sentence of public shame. I’m glad to be a part of this bill package on improving the rules for expungement and look forward to working with my colleagues on this issue.”


Bills would revamp Michigan criminal expungement – WOOD TV Channel 8 Grand Rapids, Sept. 9

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers is proposing legislation that would expand who qualifies to have criminal offenses expunged.

The lawmakers, led by Rep. Graham Filler, R-DeWitt, and local leaders met in Kalamazoo Monday afternoon to discuss the six-bill package.

“For too long, Michigan citizens have been restricted from removing low-level crimes from their record. Our reforms remedy that issue and will affect hundreds of thousands of people,” Filler said.


~Barbara Wieland
Communications Specialist