June 2, 2021
LANSING -- Attorney General Dana Nessel was joined today by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Congressman Dan Kildee and Genesee County Sheriff Christopher Swanson to give remarks at the opening of the Department of Attorney General Expungement Fair at the Genesee County Sheriff's Office in Flint.
The Department of Attorney General partnered with the Genesee County Sheriff's Office and others to host the department's first expungement fair. The event is being held outdoors today from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Sheriff's Office located at 1002 S. Saginaw Street in Flint.
"I am thrilled to see this event come together," said Nessel. "I was personally involved in crafting the bills that overhauled our state's expungement law, including eligible misdemeanor marijuana convictions. These changes offer an overdue second chance for residents who would otherwise have to carry the burden of a public criminal record well past the point of having paid their debt to society. I am thankful for the support and partnership of all involved and I am eager to help make a difference in the lives of eligible Michiganders."
The purpose of the event is to assist eligible individuals in obtaining expungements for misdemeanor marijuana convictions and provide information to individuals seeking expungement of other eligible misdemeanor and felony convictions.
"Operation Clean Slate marks the beginning of new chapters written in the lives of thousands around the State of Michigan," said Swanson. "Burdened by the stigmas of the past, yet today they walk away dignified, redeemed and wrapped in the warm blanket of freedom."
The Department of Attorney General developed an online questionnaire for individuals with convictions in Genesee County to access in order to be prescreened for participation in the expungement fair. Nearly 1,000 individuals submitted information via the department's website.
Individuals seeking to expunge eligible misdemeanor marijuana convictions under the law will receive assistance to finalize their applications. Individuals seeking expungement of other eligible misdemeanor and/or felony convictions under Michigan's newly expanded expungement law will have access to the materials and documents necessary to proceed with the application process.
Volunteer attorneys and staff from community organizations such as Legal Services of Eastern Michigan and Michigan Works will join with staff from the Department of Attorney General and personnel from the Genesee County Sheriff's Office to help fair participants navigate the expungement process.
"Today's event is the culmination of tireless efforts by so many people who have pushed hard to address the injustices plaguing our criminal justice system," said Whitmer. "Expungement is about second chances. It's also inextricably linked to economic opportunity, housing, education, and so many other issues impacted by someone's record. I was proud to sign Clean Slate legislation last year and grateful to see it having a real-world impact today. Together, we can continue making meaningful, bipartisan criminal justice reforms to empower every Michigander to pursue their potential as we emerge from the pandemic and turbocharge our economic recovery."
Michigan's new expungement law took effect on April 11, 2021. The law created a specific process to expunge certain offenses that are no longer crimes following passage of Proposal 1 in November 2018 that legalized the possession and use of recreational marijuana for adults in Michigan. Qualifying misdemeanor marijuana convictions may be expunged by individuals who complete a required application process.
"Today, thanks to our collaborative efforts, we are addressing disparities that have impacted generations of Michiganders, especially people of color," said Gilchrist. "Michigan's updated laws and events like today's will have an immense positive impact on hundreds of thousands of residents who have faced a confusing and expensive process to apply for an expungement. There is more work to do, but Michigan is proud to be a leader in removing barriers to economic opportunity for people who deserve a second chance."
The new expungement law also expands the number of other misdemeanor and felony convictions a person may expunge. An individual convicted of up to three felonies, except life offenses and other serious felonies, and an unlimited number of certain misdemeanors can, with some exceptions, file an application with the convicting court to expunge all his or her convictions. Individuals with more than three felony convictions on their criminal record are not eligible to seek expungements under the new law.
"Today's expungement fair allows those who have paid their debts to society a chance at a brighter future," said Kildee. "A criminal record for misdemeanor offenses like marijuana possession should not make it harder to find a good-paying job or affordable housing. I am thankful for Attorney General Nessel's leadership and partnership with local law enforcement to make today's expungement fair such a success. In Congress, I will continue to work on bipartisan criminal justice reform, including bipartisan legislation like the First Step Act to improve public safety and reduce recidivism."
Residents who participate in today's fair will also have an opportunity to drop by the Secretary of State's station at the event and register to vote.
"We are at our best as a society and strongest as a state when every citizen has a seat at the table and every voice is heard," said Benson. "I'm proud so many leaders are working to directly serve and support the many Michiganders seeking to contribute to our society as voters and engaged citizens, and ensure they have all the tools they need to effectively do so."
Vaccinations for COVID-19 will also be available at the event.
This expungement event is the first of several events the Department of Attorney General plans to host in the coming months. Individuals with convictions outside of Genesee County who are interested in obtaining more information about the expungement law and process, including application checklists, may do so online at the Department's expungement webpage.
Information regarding other expungement events will also be made available on the Department of Attorney General website.