Michigan did right today, taking a step to chisel away systemic racism, and the cycle of poverty that’s connected with it.
Criminal records for non-violent offenses should never be a life sentence into poverty, but it has been for decades.
This week however, more than one million Michigan residents will have nonviolent convictions expunged from their record, slates wiping clean. Expungement means a better chance of being considered for jobs, a better chance of being approved for housing, a chance at stability, and chance to participate more fully in society.
BIPOC communities are disproportionately criminalized and thus treated unfairly by society. Wiping the slate and clearing nonviolent records offers a chance to build self-esteem and pride. It offers glimmers of hope for an actual future – something communities of color have disproportionately not been able to enjoy.
The devastating economic, societal and emotional fallout of criminal records, even nonviolent ones, are felt for generations especially in BIPOC
communities. Today’s change in Michigan laws is one step in our work toward racial equity.
This doesn’t mean our justice system is now fixed, but it’s a step that is decades overdue. We must work to keep the momentum.
– Michael Rafferty, President & CEO