GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Michigan’s new “Clean Slate” law is already in effect, but for many people, getting their record cleared is more complicated than simply pressing a button.
In Grand Rapids Tuesday, hundreds of people came out for a one-stop shop of getting help to get a clean slate and a new lease on life.
“Historically in the state of Michigan, prior to Clean Slate, the most recent survey we had showed that only 6 percent of people who were eligible for expungement were actually successfully pursuing expungements. And I think for so many folks, the nuance in the law is very intimidating,” says Denavvia Mojet, executive director of the Black and Brown Cannabis Guild.
Mojet is the coordinator of Michigan Expungement Week, hosting fairs across the state to make the process feel less daunting. On Tuesday she and a group of volunteers from the public, city and local companies helped people through one at a time, providing resources like free attorneys, free notaries, free fingerprinting and background checks.
“For a lot of these people, you did one bad thing 20 years ago and then you never got to move on from it. Even if technically, you didn't have to report any more after 10 years, or seven years or five years. At the end of the day once it's gone, you essentially get to live like it didn't happen,” Mojet explained. “For a lot of folks that's something that they need. They typically are shackled to that forever and they shouldn't have to be.”
Many of those offenses are marijuana related, which of course is now legal for adult use in the state.
“We have so many people, thousands of Michiganders walking around having to disclose every day when they want a job or a scholarship or an apartment that 'I got this felony for marijuana, I got this misdemeanor for marijuana,' and now [the state is] making millions of dollars in the cannabis industry. That's not justice; that's not fair,” Mojet said.
And groups like Mojet’s are hoping to get justice or help for everyone who comes out. Whether that's getting a clean slate, a job or even a GED.
“That's what this is about: just making it easier for folks to access opportunities,” she added.
Their next fair is in Benton Harbor Wednesday and then Muskegon on Friday. To register for upcoming expungement fairs, click here.