Northern Michigan Prosecutors Discuss Possible Expungement Expansion

Expanding expungement.

That’s what lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are proposing for Michigan’s criminal justice system.

Lawmakers are set to propose law that would make it easier to remove some past convictions from criminal records.

But the proposal is getting push back from some prosecutors, including here in northern Michigan.

The expungement expansion legislation would increase the number of people eligible for expungement.

It would allow certain non-assault charges committed during a 24 hour period to be considered a single felony.

Wexford County Prosecutor Jason Elmore feels this proposal is the wrong idea for the criminal justice system.

“We already have tools in place that allow law enforcement and courts to give people second chances for one time bad choices. We have programs for controlled substance, domestic violence and youthful offenders under the age of 24. We already have those available, how much further do we need to go,” said Elmore.

The proposed legislation would also allow people with marijuana convictions to apply for expungement for behavior now allowed under current law.

“Law enforcement, prosecutors and courts already have a lot of opportunities and tools to give people second chances. We have several different diversion programs for first time offenders. This proposal blows the doors of it wide open. It ends up holding people no longer accountable for their bad choices,” explained Elmore.

Supporters say this legislation would open the door for greater criminal justice reform and greatly benefit the state. But Elmore says it simply goes too far.

“I respect and appreciate again that people make bad choices, however we all make them. It doesn’t mean that we’re bad people, but we need to have those consequences,” said Elmore.