Wiping slate clean is right thing to do
Everybody makes mistakes, some bigger than others. People have the right to overcome their past transgressions and move on, hopefully in the right direction, with the smaller offenses playing less of a role in a person’s future.
The Michigan House on Tuesday passed legislation that would overhaul expungement laws and make it easier for hundreds of thousands of people to have clean criminal records.
This is especially pertinent with the recent legalization of the recreational use of marijuana in Michigan. Someone convicted of a minor pot-related crime back in the day wouldn’t face such a conviction nowadays.
Seven bills, approved with bipartisan support in the Republican-led chamber, were sent to the Senate for future consideration, the Associated Press reported.
One measure, starting as early as 2022, would provide for the automatic expungement of certain crimes without the need for applications to be filed. Other measures would shorten the waiting period before people could ask to set aside misdemeanor offenses and let those with misdemeanor pot convictions to clear the offenses — if they wouldn’t have been crimes before voters’ legalization of pot in 2018.
It’s not just marijuana-related offenses that come into play. The bills would make many traffic offenses eligible for expungement. They also would let more people with multiple crimes apply, plus they would require multiple felony offenses to be treated as a single conviction if they take place within 24 hours.
Talk about making a clean slate.
We’re not talking about serial killers wiping their records clean. The issue here is allowing people convicted of misdemeanors and other relatively minor offenses to not have those transgressions follow them the rest of their lives.
A goal of Tuesday’s legislation presumably would be to remove barriers to unemployment, housing and other issues.
Looking at the issue long term, if someone’s past marijuana conviction kept them from being employed in certain jobs, that person would have more trouble paying taxes or being a fully productive member of society.
To look at it another way, were someone to use marijuana now in a manner that would have led to a conviction a few years ago, the outcome likely would be different.
This is just leveling the playing field.
We believe the legislation will let more people learn from their pasts and move on with their lives.