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Cleaning the Slate: Expungement of Old Criminal Records

October 2, 2019
By David Guenthner

Mackinac Center for Public Policy Testimony before the Michigan House Judiciary Committee

People who have committed crimes deserve to be punished in a manner appropriate to the harm they have caused. But once they have completed their sentences and shown over time that they have committed to a law-abiding path, how long should they have to carry around the mark of that moment of poor judgment?
Research has shown that one of the most effective ways to ensure exoffenders don’t commit  additional crimes is to get them into a real job … and quickly. But too many Michiganders are deprived of job opportunities and suitable housing due to decades-old criminal convictions, many for minor offenses. How does it strengthen our economy, our neighborhoods, or our families when people seeking to improve their lives are being disqualified over 10-years-past minor-in-possessions, over 20-years-past DUIs, or over 30-years-past financial crimes?