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Governor Whitmer signs bipartisan “Clean Slate” criminal justice reform bills

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Posted at 2:11 PM, Oct 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-12 14:11:10-04

LANSING, Mich. — Monday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed bipartisan House Bills (HB 4980-4985 and 5120) reforming Michigan’s criminal expungement laws. The changes will make it easier for people who have committed certain felonies and misdemeanors to have their record expunged.

Changes in the bills include allowing a person to set aside one or more marijuana offenses if the offense would not have been a crime if committed after December 6, 2018 when recreational marijuana use by adults became legal in the state. During her 2018 campaign for governor, Governor Whitmer made expungement for marijuana convictions one of her key priorities.

“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,” said Governor Whitmer. “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.”

“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 Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “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.”

The changes proposed by House Bills 4980-4985 and 5120 include the following:

  • Creates an automatic process for setting aside eligible misdemeanors after seven years and eligible non-assaultive felonies after 10 years.
  • Expands the number and revises the types of felonies and misdemeanors eligible to be set aside by application.
  • Revises the waiting periods before being eligible to apply.
  • Treat multiple felonies or misdemeanor offenses arising from the same transaction as a single felony or misdemeanor conviction, provided the offenses happened within 24 hours of one another and are not assaultive crimes, or involves possession or use of a dangerous weapon, or is a crime that carries penalty of 10 or more years in prison.
  • Expands expungement eligibility to various traffic offenses.
  • Allow a person to petition to set aside one or more marijuana offenses if the offense would not have been a crime if committed after the use of recreational marijuana by adults became legal in the state.

“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,” said House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering). “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.”

This administration has a history of prioritizing criminal justice reform. In May of 2019 Governor Whitmer signed into law bipartisan bills reforming “Civil Asset Forfeiture,” limiting and in some cases ending the ability of law enforcement agencies to seize a person’s property before that person has been judged and convicted. Additionally, Governor Whitmer signed “Raise the Age” into law which was an 18-bill package that increased the age of who is legally considered a juvenile or an adult in the criminal justice system from 17 to 18 years old.

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