Business leaders across the state are competing for good workers. At a time when Michigan’s unemployment rate is at the lowest it’s been in about two decades, there is a real shortage of available workers, and people with good skills who are ready to work without extra training are highly sought after. However, the presence of a criminal record scares away many hiring managers without even giving some highly talented and skilled workers a chance — even if the record reflects things that happened 20 or more years ago without any convictions since then. Passing Clean Slate legislation would remove those barriers to employment and bring more skilled workers into the labor market, boosting our state’s economy and making Michigan stronger for everyone. Expanded access to employment will also promote public safety by reducing recidivism — even though eligible people are a low recidivism group to begin with.
Redemption and restoration are core values for many faith traditions. But all too often, landlords and hiring managers refuse to give people a second chance because of a criminal record of things that happened decades ago. This turns redemption into an abstract idea rather than a reality for too many Michiganders who have a history of incarceration in jail or prison or time spent on probation. We can change that. Clean Slate will shield old criminal records from public view, so that people who have done their time and paid their debt to society can get a fresh start and become productive members of society again.
People with a Criminal Record
All of us have made mistakes in our lives, and we can all understand the importance of getting a second chance. But for people whose mistakes resulted in an arrest, criminal charges or incarceration, those opportunity can seem elusive. In Michigan, there are 787 state laws that limit people with a criminal record for getting a job, safe place to live, or a good education. Studies show that people who have kept their criminal records clear for several years after serving a sentence are extremely unlikely to re-offend, but the policies of many employers and landlords continue to punish them for decades. People with a criminal record are coming forward to show that they are valued co-workers, neighbors and members of their communities who are worthy of a second chance.
Survivors of Crime
People who have survived a crime don’t want endless retribution. Studies show that what they want more than anything is understanding, rehabilitation and restoration. According to the Alliance for Safety and Justice’s 2018 Michigan Crime Survivor Survey, nearly two-thirds of Michigan crime survivors favored shorter prison sentences and more funding for prevention and rehabilitation programs. Eighty percent of survivors wanted prosecutors to reduce local crime by focusing on rehabilitation, even if it meant fewer prison sentences. So crime survivors are supporting Clean Slate because it will reduce recidivism and support rehabilitation and restoration.