“Past criminal offenses can create unnecessary barriers to housing and employment long after someone has paid their dues to society.”

By Scott McClallen, The Center Square

Several Michigan law firms, criminal justice groups, and cannabis reform organizations have teamed up to form the Great Lakes Expungement Network to help people expunge records under Michigan’s new “Clean Slate” law.

The network is supported by the nonprofit Redemption Foundation, founded by the Redemption Cannabis brand, and the nonprofit Sons and Daughters United, which helps low-income, underprivileged and minority populations.

“Past criminal offenses can create unnecessary barriers to housing and employment long after someone has paid their dues to society,” Josh Covert, the network’s legal services director and partner at Michigan Cannabis Lawyers, said in a statement.

“Too many people have been harmed by cannabis prohibition, so we want to help them take advantage of Michigan’s Clean Slate law and usher them through the application process.”

A University of Michigan Law study found that individuals who expunged their records experienced a wage jump of 25 percent, attained better housing options, and increased employment likelihood by 11 percent.

But that study estimated only 6.5 percent of those able to wipe their records did so within five years of eligibility due to costs and other complications. So the network aims to make expungement more accessible.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) has said up to 1 million Michigan residents may newly qualify for expungement under the law that took effect this year.

Ryan Basore, a founder of The Redemption Foundation and the Redemption Cannabis brand, aims to change those numbers.

“Many people are unaware of their eligibility, and even more are burdened by complicated forms and the hefty expense which can cost thousands of dollars on average,” Ryan Basore, president of the Redemption Foundation, said in a statement. “Organizers at the Great Lake Expungement Network are dedicated to helping people navigate the state’s complex expungement process.”

Law firms supporting the Great Lakes Expungement Network include:

  • The Law Offices of Barton Morris, Royal Oak
  • Cannabis Counsel, Detroit
  • Duncan & Associates, Dowagiac
  • Michigan Cannabis Lawyers, Lansing
  • Rudoi Law, Royal Oak
  • Wojtowicz Law PLC, St. Joseph

“The Great Lake Expungement Network has made it our mission to expunge as many criminal records as possible. Our team is able to walk you through the application process, scan for eligibility, obtain necessary documents, and match you to an attorney who will represent you in court,” Sons and Daughters United President Josey Scoggin said in a statement. “Like many Michiganders, we believe in second chances. This program will provide relief to people all across the Great Lake State.”

This piece was first published by The Center Square.

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