Criminal record expungement can mean a great deal

Bravo to the Michigan Bar Association and the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law for taking on what we suspect will become a rather substantial effort to expunge the records of people convicted of petty offenses which now are standing in the way of them getting loans, jobs and entrance to institutions of higher learning.

Using a $20,000 grant from the bar association, University of Detroit Mercy law students and other legal professionals will hold a series of a half dozen so-called traveling clinics labeled Project Access in Lower Peninsula counties.

They are designed to be one-stop shops where applicants can get free assistance from local judges, law enforcement, volunteer attorneys and eight law school students, according to The Detroit News.

Generally, people with not more than one felony offense or not more than two misdemeanors are eligible for expungement. Some convictions, such as traffic offenses, cannot be expunged, the News reported.

Cases will be handled, they tell us, on an individual basis with no guarantees.

A Michigan Supreme Court news release announcing the clinics cited a recent University of Michigan Law School study which found that people who had their records expunged saw their wages increase by an average of 25% within two years.

Several hundred thousand people convicted of marijuana-related misdemeanors could be eligible through a bill introduced earlier this month by Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor. It’s an initiative he believes would expunge the records of more than 235,000, the Detroit Free Press reported.

“Clearing your record can make the difference in getting a job, in restoring a professional license, getting a student loan, getting into college, graduating from college. It can make a difference in securing housing, getting a loan for a home,” Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget McCormack said Thursday at the launch of the program in Lansing.

Almost everyone deserves a second chance, especially the petty marijuana offenders.

We hope those who are granted the expungements appreciate what has been done for them.

— The Mining Journal (Marquette)

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