Michigan state lawmakers have recently proposed House Bill 4186, which is aimed at expunging criminal records of nonviolent criminals who have paid their debts to society and become rehabilitated. The current law in Michigan allows for the expungement of a single conviction. The proposed Bill would allow the expungement of up to two misdemeanors, or one misdemeanor and one felony after a five-year waiting period has passed from the completion of probation or parole. The Bill will not protect or help those with sexual offenses, or felonies that can be punishable by life imprisonment. It would have little to no fiscal impact on the Judiciary.
The most controversial aspect of the Bill is that it is helping to address what some call “invisible sentences,” or the difficulty felt by those who cannot live normally even after completing their criminal sentence. Rep. Stacy Erwin Oaks (D-Saginaw) introduced the Bill to state legislature in order to alleviate the burden of those being affected by the “invisible sentence.” The Bill would expand opportunities for nonviolent felons by making their records available only to judges and law enforcement and allowing them to obtain employment or housing without the fear that their conviction will stand in their way.