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Whitmer signs “Clean Slate” criminal justice package

Inmates in Michigan's county jails could be housed in smaller cells under a bill passed by the Michigan house this week.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed a sweeping package of bills that will allow thousands to expunge their criminal records after they’ve served their sentences.

The legislation enables thousands of people who’ve been denied housing, employment and other opportunities because of past criminal convictions a chance to clear their records.

Many offenses range from traffic violations to marijuana charges that were imposed before recreational use was legalized in 2018.

Michigan’s law also covers some past felonies, making it the most comprehensive expungement system in the country.

Representative David LaGrand is a Democrat from Grand Rapids, and a co-sponsor of the package.

“This is transformative. This is anti-poverty, this is pro-public safety. But it is mostly pro-dignity,” LaGrand said.

State Representative Sherry Gay-Dagnogo is a Democrat from Detroit.

She says she’s talked with people who’ve resorted to crime because they felt they had no other avenues available to them.

“When you lock people out of opportunity and you lock them out of jobs, they have no other recourse in some instances. And so now today, a bipartisan package which opens up the floodgates for people to work…that’s what today is about,” she said.

The group Safe and Just Michigan reports that nearly a quarter of a million people in the state will be eligible to clear their past marijuana misdemeanor convictions.

The law will formally take effect in April.

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