In Michigan, those convicted of felonies have found it difficult to obtain employment and professional licenses due to their criminal history, regardless of whether or not the individual has paid his or her debt to society. A felony conviction also excludes many from receiving educational scholarships, which are crucial when one cannot obtain gainful employment to support oneself through school. This pushes many felons into a vicious cycle of recidivism.
Stacy Erwin Oakes Pushes House Bill 4186 Into Law
It is for these reasons that Representative Stacy Erwin Oakes is gearing up to battle House Bill 4186 up the legislative chain and into law. The Bill is bipartisan, and this is the fifth time that legislation of this nature has been introduced; all previous attempts have stalled in the House. The Bill would allow for up to two misdemeanors and one felony to be set aside. The petitioner is required to meet a five-year waiting period that starts on the date they he or she completed his or her probation or parole. The Bill does not allow for any violent offenses to be set aside, and the judge has sole discretion over whether or not the conviction should be set aside.
How Current Michigan Law Handles Set Asides
Current Michigan law only allows for an offender to set aside a conviction that was received by an individual that was under eighteen years of age at the time of the offense, or they may only have a total of one conviction on their record to be eligible. Once a conviction is set aside it is sealed from public view, and can no longer be considered during the employee hiring process. Setting aside a conviction will allow an individual to obtain scholarships and professional licenses.
While some may view the proposed Bill as “soft on crime,” others feel that it is a message to the state of Michigan that incarceration truly can lead to successful rehabilitation. The Bill will provide a second chance for many offenders that have moved forward with their lives and want to continue on as productive members of society.