WASHINGTON (Dec. 9) – Michigan legislators are considering a seven-bill “Clean Slate” package to automate and expand eligibility for expungements, which would clear the records of hundreds of thousands of Michiganders. The bills have already passed the Michigan House of Representatives with bipartisan support and are now in the hands of the Senate.

In a new policy short, R Street Associate Director of Criminal Justice and Civil Liberties Nila Bala explores how expungements, also known as set-asides, effectively improve employment and housing outcomes for those with criminal records. With increased wages and employment opportunities, individuals can better support themselves and their families, leading to economic benefits for all Michiganders.

Bala finds that set-asides for minor offenses can be successfully automated without any harm to public safety. Eligible individuals have satisfied a sufficient waiting period and demonstrated their ability to remain crime-free. Indeed, expungements likely improve public safety—with better employment chances, people are less likely to resort to committing future crimes.

She highlights that without automation, over 90 percent of eligible Michiganders will not access relief or the benefits that come from a cleared criminal record. While automation may have short-term costs, the practice could bring untold benefits to Michigan’s economy.

The author asserts, “until expungements are broadly and easily available, we are unlikely to see the full potential they offer, and the Clean Slate bill package offers such an opportunity.”