One thousand people gathered in Detroit yesterday for a town hall meeting, hoping to have their records expunged in Wayne County’s new Second Chance Through Expungement program, reports the Detroit News. “To see the people, it does nothing but tear down the stereotype that people with convictions don’t want to do anything better,” said Richard Jones, program manager. “It doesn’t surprise me. It surprises people who are not a part of this. The need is great. Everybody with a conviction is not a career criminal. (But) it’s a lifetime sentence.”
The program, launched last month by County Executive Robert Ficano, seeks to eliminate a barrier that often keeps some people from getting a job. Wayne County residents who have had one nonviolent offense and have not got into trouble in the past five years will be eligible to get the conviction set aside. County dollars will help fund expungements, which cost as much as $1,200. Expunging convictions has been legal in Michigan since 1965. A partnership with Legal Aid and Defenders, Michigan State Police, the prosecutors, and judges will help oversee the process. There are about 8,500 nonviolent offenders in Wayne County; it’s unclear how many of them are out of work and eligible for the program.