America incarcerates much more of its population, percentage-wise, than many other countries around the world. In Michigan, many people have difficulty reintegrating into society after leaving prison. Even after completing their sentences, they’re faced with real stigma. It can be hard to find a job, housing or even to volunteer at school with their own children. Clean Slate will change all of that.
How expungement works now
Not everyone with a criminal record is even eligible to apply to have it expunged. Right now, only people with a record of one felony or two misdemeanors can even start the process. Those who made more than one or two bad decisions are simply stuck, even if they’ve changed their ways.
Clean Slate is an innovative idea that many communities in Michigan support. Instead of forcing people to undertake a long and difficult expungement process, Clean Slate would make it automatic. No one would really even need to pursue it. This is a serious benefit for people who were only found guilty of minor misdemeanors. Instead of going through an arduous process, record expungement would just happen.
Some critics say that Clean Slate goes too far. They say that the public needs to be protected from felons. The truth is, a felony is just something someone does. It’s not who they are, it’s an isolated action. And remember: the restrictions on expungement make it hard for people with misdemeanors to move forward, too.
If you have a criminal record that’s hampering you, it may be time to contact an attorney. As it stands now, record expungement is still a challenging process, even for people who’ve only committed misdemeanors. Having an attorney on your side can make it easier to navigate the bureaucracy.