June, 2020 - Safe & Just Michigan

Clean Slate Resumes Legislative Action

The Clean Slate legislative package — a set of seven bills that would expand access to expungements and automate the process in many cases — passed the Michigan House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support in October 2019, but it seemed to stall in the Legislature since then. That changed in June 2020, when the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee took up the bills for consideration.

On June 4, the committee heard from package sponsors Reps. Graham Filler (R-DeWitt) and David LaGrand (D-Grand Rapids), who provided an overview of Michigan’s expungement system and how Clean Slate would improve it. Also testifying that day were University of Michigan researchers Sonja Starr and JJ Prescott and the litigation services director of Philadelphia Legal Services, where a similar Clean Slate law was enacted last year. A Michigan resident who has suffered the collateral consequences of having a criminal record also testified about how Clean Slate would help him move on with his life. You can watch the testimony on our YouTube channel at youtu.be/G2E7A5EEzS0.

The second hearing followed a week later and featured our own Executive Director John S. Cooper, as well as many notable conservative leaders, including Americans for Tax Reform founder Grover Norquist and representatives from groups like the R Street Institute, American Conservative Union, and Americans for Prosperity. A crime survivor and member of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice also explained why she supports Clean Slate. You can watch that testimony at youtu.be/FS49OHBIgaU.

We anticipate at least one more hearing before it is voted out of committee, though we don’t have a confirmed date yet. We are hopeful this package of legislation will move quickly through the Senate and be signed into law so that it will begin to help hundreds of thousands of Michiganders. Please follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter at bit.ly/sjmsignup to get updates.

First Bills Based on
Jails Task Force Introduced to the
House of Representatives

In January, the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration presented its final report, which included 18 recommendations intended to be transformed into actionable legislation. Earlier this month, the first of those bills were introduced to the Michigan House of Representatives. They are:

1. Bills eliminating most driver’s license suspensions that are not related to public safety: House Bill 5846, HB 5847, HB 5848, HB 5849, HB 5850, HB 5851, HB 5852
2. Bills eliminating jail mandatory minimums: HB 5854, HB 5855, HB 5856, HB 5857, HB 5844
3. Removing incarceration in jail as an option for some traffic misdemeanor charges (where nobody was harmed or put at risk of harm) HB 5853

No committee meeting for these bills has yet been scheduled, but follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter to keep up-to-date on developments on the task force bills.

The Evidence-Based Case for
Ending Sex Offender Registries

On May 28, Safe & Just Michigan hosted a virtual discussion titled, “The evidence-based case for ending sex offender registries.” Sex offender registries promised to keep survivors and communities safe by limiting where people convicted of sex offenses can live, work, learn, and volunteer. It requires them to publicly register where they reside and work. But studies show these laws fail to keep us safe, while they create an underclass of people who struggle to find a good job and safe place to live.

Safe & Just Michigan Policy Analyst Josh Hoe moderated this discussion. He was joined by ACLU of Michigan Staff Attorney Miriam Aukerman; Judith Levine, a journalist, feminist and co-author of “The Feminist and the Sex Offender”; “Confronting Sexual Harm, Ending State Violence”; and Columbia Justice Lab Director Vincent Schiraldi. If you missed the discussion, you can catch it at

Michigan Jails Task Force Webinar 1:
Ending Counterproductive
Criminal Penalties

Safe & Just Michigan kicked off a webinar series on understanding the recommendations of the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration with a session that took a closer look at the suggestion we end overly harsh penalties for minor offenses. According to research conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts, most arrests in Michigan are for misdemeanors that harmed no one. Police spend many hours and large amounts of taxpayer dollars to arrest, book, and jail people for these minor offenses. The task force recommends reclassifying many minor offenses as ticketable infractions. 

Our online learning event on June 9 was moderated by Erika Parks of the Pew Charitable Trusts. She was joined by task force members Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit) and Craig DeRoche, who is the senior vice president for advocacy & public policy for Prison Fellowship and former Michigan House Speaker (R-Novi). Josh Hoe, Policy Analyst for Safe & Just Michigan, rounded out the panel.

To see the discussion, please visit https://youtu.be/AnyjKUAdzm0

Visit our website at www.safeandjustmi.org. If you would like to join Safe & Just Michigan’s efforts, please contact us at
info@safeandjustmi.org or sign up for our electronic communications at bit.ly/sjmsignup.