By April Morton

(CBS DETROIT) – Hundreds of Thousands of Michiganders with a criminal past will soon be able to have their records automatically wiped clean. Now that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed the “Clean Slate” bill into law.

On Monday, Michigan became the third state to enact an automated record-clearing law, and the first state to automatically clear qualifying felonies.

The bills will give those returning from prison a chance to remove barriers that often holds them back from being productive returning citizens. Something Earl Burton knows far too well.

“Legitimate employment and you know the real world with a criminal background like mine that was the first thing people looked at and asked about,” said Burton.

Burton was released in 2018 after spending 28 years in a Michigan prison. Now working for the non-profit Michigan Liberation, he says the Clean Slate bill will do wonders for those with a criminal past.

“They paid for their mistakes so they should be able to become productive members of society and move on with their lives,” said Burton.

The Bipartisan House Bills 4980-4985 and 5120 will reform the criminal expungement laws, making it easier for people who have committed certain misdemeanors and felonies to have their record expunged.

Mayor Mike Duggan spoke at today’s press conference, he and other lawmakers say the current expungement process is too complicated and most can’t afford the fees.

“Way too many residents in the city of Detroit who are hardworking, talented, and are being held back because of a mistake, 80,000 more Detroiters are eligible for expungement today, that were not eligible before,” he said.

The changes proposed by the House Bills includes eligible misdemeanors being automatically removed after seven years and eligible non-assaultive felonies after 10 years. The law takes effect in April of 2021.

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April Morton

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