FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 24, 2019
Contact: Loretta Kane (917-410-7242 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
Directly impacted leaders hold rally and educate legislators on their demand to lead the vision for Clean Slate legislation in Michigan
Coalition of Michiganders from across the state educate legislators on economic barriers that follow a conviction and their vision for a true clean slate
LANSING, Michigan — Directly impacted leaders and advocates from the Clean Slate Michigan coalition, along with partners, and grassroots organizations gathered today in Lansing for a day of action that included a rally and educational meetings with legislators. Coalition members lifted up the message that everyone deserves access to basic needs, safety in their communities, and dignity in their lives — no matter where they live or what their record states. Directly impacted advocates educated elected officials on the lifetime consequences of a conviction which include significant barriers to crucial everyday needs – from employment, to education, to housing. Advocates discussed how the process of sealing conviction records can be automated to lessen and remove these barriers. The process of expunging a record is critical not only because it leads to more opportunity for individuals and families — but because it leads to more stable communities.
Currently in Michigan, the expungement process is complicated and costly, and too few people are eligible. The Clean Slate Michigan coalition is working to make expungement an automatic process, one that is simple and open to more people. By expanding expungement, Michigan can remove barriers faced by millions of people with records so that they are able to access meaningful employment, housing, and education.
Today’s day of action comes after months of community forums across the states that have determined organizing principles and values of Michiganders working for human rights and dignity and economic justice for people with records. Advocates discussed barriers they face immediately after a conviction and many shared obstacles still present after ten and twenty years. Directly impacted people highlighted the next steps in their plan to shape new expungement legislation around their own vision.
Coalition members met with House Representatives Kara Hope, Gary Howell, Kyra Bolden, Douglas Wozniak, Teneisha Yancy, Julie Brixie, and Sarah Anthony, as well as policy staff for Governor Whitmer. The coalition is organizing directly impacted people in communities across Michigan and will continue to lead community-driven criminal justice efforts.
Members expressed the urgency and importance of the coalition’s work:
“Under-investment in our communities has happened simultaneous to mass criminalization. In Michigan, where 50,000 people are charged with felonies each year, their punishment does not end at the end of their sentence, instead the perpetual stigmatization follows people for a lifetime and denies people access to basic security. If we are to truly reckon with this, policy makers must look to the communities most harmed for solutions.” Nicholas Buckingham, Criminal Justice Campaign Director, Michigan Liberation.
“People do not want to go back to prison. Re-incarceration is rooted in the lack of access to housing and employment opportunities. Clean Slate has the potential to expand opportunities for returning citizens, and we know that having a job and a safe place to live is what really keeps communities safe.” Hakim Crampton, Michigan Statewide Organizer, WORKINGfuture campaign, JustLeadershipUSA
“Traditional policy tables are often made up of people who have power and affluence. These policy makers, lobbyists, and well funded organizations debate and create laws and regulations in a vacuum. Disconnection from the everyday realities and obstacles of under resourced, Black and brown, and punishment system involved people may lead to laws that are difficult to navigate and further criminalization of whole communities. With people at the helm who have been caught in the enduring shackles of jail, prison, probation, parole, other state surveillance, and the intentional consequences that follow folks with felonies and misdemeanors, we can work toward more and lasting liberation for the many.” – Natalie Holbrook, Program Director, American Friends Service Committee, Michigan Criminal Justice Program
“Those who have experienced criminalization and incarceration firsthand, including our clients at the Detroit Justice Center, need to shape what Clean Slate legislation will look like. Too often people who do not come from impacted communities and without direct experiences of the criminal legal system are the ones who dictate what justice and healing should look like. This “top-down” decision making process must be rejected–instead we should ensure that Clean Slate in Michigan is community driven.”
– Danielle Dillard, Campaigns and Advocacy Coordinator, Detroit Justice Center
“It is critically important that directly impacted communities lead Clean Slate efforts because we bring the perspective and insight that only people who have been through the system can have.” – Kevin Harris, Nation Outside
The Clean Slate Michigan coalition is led by directly impacted people and organizations including Advocacy, Reentry, Resources, and Outreach (A.R.R.O.), American Friends Services Committee, Michigan; Detroit Justice Center; JustLeadershipUSA; Michigan Liberation; Michigan Coalition on Crime and Delinquency; and Nation Outside. The Coalition’s demands are built on the belief that Michiganders with records have a right to meaningful employment, affordable basic services, and dignity. The Coalition is part of broader nationwide efforts to build a #WORKINGfuture for people impacted by conviction records.