NOVEMBER: Policy Updates

Photo: Kathleen Galligan, Detroit Free Press

by KALIYAH DORSEY                                                                                                  

  1. Michigan House of Representatives Pass Legislation That Will Expand Criminal Record Expungement
  • On November 5th, the Michigan House of Representatives approved legislation that would expand who’s eligible for criminal record expungement and create a system to automate the process for certain offenses. The seven bills passed with wide bipartisan support, ranging from 97-10 to 102-6. All the no votes on the bills came from Republican lawmakers. The bills would make the following changes:
    • Automatic expungement of certain felonies after 10 years and misdemeanors after seven years, with a cap of two felonies and four misdemeanors. Assaultive crimes would not be eligible. 
    • Allow for expungement of marijuana offenses if the offense would not have been a crime if committed after the use of recreational marijuana by adults became legal in the state. 
    • Treat multiple felonies or misdemeanors arising from the same 24-hour period as one conviction for the purposes of expungement. None of the offenses could be assaultive, involve the use or possession of a weapon, or carry a maximum penalty of 10 or more years in prison.
    • Allow for the expungement of most traffic offenses, except for the following: convictions for operating while intoxicated, an offense committed by someone with a commercial drivers license while operating a commercial motor vehicle, and any offense causing injury or death. 
    • Expand the number of convictions eligible for expungement to allow for up to three felonies and an unlimited number of misdemeanors, with these conditions: no more than two assaultive crimes, and not more than one felony conviction for the same offense if the offense is punishable by more than 10 years imprisonment.
    • Revise the waiting period after which someone can apply for expungement, to between three and seven years, depending on the type and number of convictions. The law currently requires a five-year waiting period.
  1. Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring Outlined His Reform Vision 
  • On November 17th, Virginia Attorney General, Mark Herring, wrote an op-ed for The Virginian Pilot, going into detail about his outline for reform. In the upcoming legislative session, he will be pushing for reforms in the following areas: cannabis reform, expanding opportunities for record expungement, cash bail reform, building a more inclusive, diverse judiciary, increasing safety and accountability in policing/use of force and deaths in custody, and expanding reentry programs in local and regional jails. 
  1. Michigan Passes New Laws That Allow Teens Up to Age 18 to be in the Youth System
  • This month, laws were passed in Michigan that will raise the age until which teenagers can be in the youth system by one year, to 18. Presently, Michigan automatically treats all 17-year olds as adults, which throws thousands of minors into adult court. Only three states have now passed no law raising the age to 18: Georgia, Texas, and Wisconsin. Still, prosecutors will retain broad discretion to charge minors much younger than 17 as adults with little oversight, and state and national advocates vow to press ahead with further demands to further restrict the prosecution of youth as adults, and more.
  1. New Jersey Passes Law to Restore Voting Rights 
  • This month, the NJ state Assembly has adopted a bill, NJ A5823 (18R)/NJ S4260 (18R), that would restore the voting rights of people who are on probation and on parole. This would enfranchise about 83,000 people in New Jersey, emulating laws adopted by Colorado and Nevada this spring. 

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