About one in three working age adults has a criminal record—about the same number of Americans that have a four-year college degree. Employers put great emphasis on both factors, and the absence of one or existence of the other can severely impede the ability to find gainful employment. Michigan has just passed a package of bills called “Clean Slate.” Under Clean Slate, a vast number of convictions will be removed from the public registry.
For decades, being ‘tough on crime’ was synonymous with good governance. When someone was convicted of a crime, a permanent record was made of the event that would follow that individual for the rest of their life. The underlying reasoning, aside from punishing the offender, was to help employers avoid hiring someone that could threaten their business.
While change is slow, DUI/drug courts, mental health intervention, and other pretrial interventions are being implemented across Michigan. Studies show that such programs are more effective at reducing recidivism that incarceration. Moreover, they cost less than placing people in jail. The other side of the equation is to place the diverted individuals into good jobs that pay a livable wage.