Pontiac, Michigan, December 1, 2022: More than 250 criminal convictions of 150 Oakland County residents have now been expunged through the Oakland County Clean Slate Program. The milestone was reached in only 18 months, with the program launch during the spring of 2021.
“The successes of the Oakland County Clean Slate program have exceeded our expectations,” said County Executive David Coulter. “Oakland County leads the state in expungements, and this is a testament to our team’s tireless efforts and commitment to helping our residents.”
Among the Oakland County residents who have benefited from the Clean Slate program:
- A mother of four who stole two rolls of aluminum foil from a store in 1981 and had the misdemeanor conviction on her record until 2022
- A successful business executive who had risen to the position as vice president but, because of two drug convictions in the 1990s, could not join various charitable organizations until his convictions were set aside in 2022
- A young pregnant woman living in her car who stole food from a party store and had the misdemeanor conviction on her record until 2022
- A 17-year-old who received a felony conviction for larceny in 1990 who was unable to obtain her CPA license despite having earned a master’s degree in accounting who had her conviction set aside in 2022.
A joint effort of Oakland County and its Michigan Works! agency, the Oakland County Clean Slate Program provides free legal assistance to eligible individuals with specific criminal convictions. The successful expungement of convictions from a person’s public records opens the door to better jobs, housing, and educational opportunities.
To start the expungement process, individuals should complete an online Request for Services at https://www.oakgov.com/workforce/Pages/Clean-Slate.aspx. After this information is submitted, a program representative will contact the person within 90 days with more details on eligibility. If approved to proceed, the expungement process typically takes 3-6 months to complete.
To qualify for the Oakland County Clean Slate program, a person must meet the following requirements:
- Currently reside in Oakland County
- Up to three felony convictions can be expunged after seven years (only two may be for assaultive crimes)
- An unlimited number of misdemeanor convictions may be expunged after three years
- Serious misdemeanors and one felony conviction may be expunged after five years
- Various traffic offenses are eligible for expungement, excluding convictions for driving while intoxicated (more than one conviction) and those that cause injury or death
- A person can petition to set aside one or more misdemeanor marijuana offenses if they would not have been a crime after recreational use was legalized
“We’re having a positive impact on so many people and employers,” said Jennifer Llewellyn, director of Oakland County Michigan Works! “There are countless stories of people who have had their convictions successfully expunged, opening the doors to so many new opportunities. It’s a win-win for both our residents and employers who are building their workforces.”
The Clean Slate Initiative is a national bipartisan coalition advancing policies to automatically clear all eligible criminal records across the United States. It reports one in three Americans has a criminal record, which can include misdemeanors. Nearly 90 percent of employers conduct background checks and some industries bar hiring individuals with criminal convictions. The exclusion of this segment of the population in the workforce costs the U.S. economy an estimated $87 billion annually in lost GDP, according to the organization.
A 2019 University of Michigan report, “Expungement of Criminal Convictions: An Empirical Study” said 300,000 criminal convictions are recorded each year in Michigan, but only 6.5 percent of eligible residents currently take advantage of the expungement process. This lack of participation, according to the study, is due to a general shortage of information on how the process works, time constraints, costs, general distrust in the criminal justice system, and lack of legal counsel. Those that do complete the expungement process, however, obtain an average 25 percent increase in wages within two years.
Oakland County Michigan Works! operates centers in Novi, Oak Park, Pontiac, Southfield, Troy, and Waterford. Combined, they assist more than 105,000 job seekers annually. Services include career coaching, interviewing and job search workshops, placement assistance, training courses and job trend information.
The centers also assist more than 3,000 employers seeking assistance with talent recruitment, apprenticeship programs, job fairs, candidate pre-screening, hiring and training support, layoff support and labor market data.
Staff are available to meet with job seekers to build their resumes, prepare for job interviews and help address other needs. To schedule a virtual meeting, call 1-248-858-5520 and select the office nearest to you. The service centers are hosting several virtual workshops for job seekers. A schedule can be found at OaklandCountyMIWorks.com.