Michigan’s Jackson County Receives Grant to Help Process Expungement Backlog

July 6, 2023

Michigan’s Jackson City Board of Commissioners has accepted a grant from the State Court Administrator’s Office. This grant would help carry out the automatic expungement of thousands of criminal records. In addition, it would help clear a longstanding backlog of misdemeanor and felony records awaiting expungement.

In a near-unanimous motion, the Board of Commissioners accepted the state’s $64,000 grant. This aid would go to clearing the backlog of cases awaiting expungement under the Automatic Clean Slate. This law took effect on April 11, 2023, automatically expunging misdemeanor and many minor felony records.

It calls for unlimited automatic expungements for misdemeanors. However, this process applies only to misdemeanors punishable by no more than 92 days imprisonment seven years after sentencing. In addition, up to four misdemeanors punishable by 93 days or more in jail could become eligible for automatic expungement. This option becomes available seven years after the sentencing date. However, eligibility requires no further convictions or pending charges during the wait.

The law also sets aside up to two qualifying felonies. These convictions must wait ten years after sentencing or complete the sentence in a Department of Corrections facility, whichever is later. In addition, the individual cannot have new convictions or pending charges during this time.

However, several crimes have proven ineligible for automatic expungement. These crimes include assault, violations related to human trafficking, and violations involving injury or death. Furthermore, felonies punishable by over ten years of imprisonment will not qualify. Other ineligible factors include crimes involving minors or vulnerable adults, crimes of dishonesty, and serious misdemeanors. Examples of the latter are stalking, domestic violence, breaking and entering, and fourth-degree child abuse.

Overall, estimations revealed that these expungements would affect over one million Michigan records. This success would remove many barriers when acquiring employment, education, and housing. However, processing these expungements has not proven easy. It takes considerable work to identify and process eligible records.

The Michigan State Police must search the state’s criminal history record database for eligible convictions. Once found, it must then inform the court system. However, courts must handle all convictions with records maintained only in a court’s records, setting them aside on the appropriate date.

Unfortunately, some court systems, including Jackson County’s, have experienced significant backlogs for expungements. This outcome is because many records suddenly became eligible for expungement. This uptick is why the Board of Commissioners accepted the state’s grant.

This grant would provide $11,546 to the court, paying for the overtime needed to process District Court expungements. In addition, it would provide $53,247 for processing Circuit Court expungements.

Michigan employers should review their policies in the face of rising expungements, ensuring they do not consider offenses that qualify for automatic expungements. The best way to start is by partnering with a background screening provider experienced with second-chance hiring.

JDP offers resources to help employers stay compliant and incorporate fair chance hiring practices. Speak with a sales rep today.