Effort launched to help cannabis offenders clear their records

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    Several Michigan-based law firms, criminal justice groups, and cannabis reform organizations have formed the Great Lakes Expungement Network (GLEN). The effort is designed to help people take advantage of Michigan’s new “Clean Slate” law.

    The organization is supported by The Redemption Foundation, a nonprofit founded by the Redemption Cannabis brand, and Sons and Daughters United, a nonprofit that provides financial, emotional and legal support to low-income, underprivileged and minority populations. GLEN also includes several law firms throughout the state that will help guide people through the expungement process.

    “Past criminal offenses can create unnecessary barriers to housing and employment long  after someone has paid their dues to society,” said Josh Covert, director of legal services for GLEN and partner at Michigan Cannabis Lawyers, one of several law firms that have joined the network. “Too many people have been harmed by  cannabis prohibition, so we want to help them take advantage of Michigan’s Clean Slate law and usher them through the application process.”

    Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in October signed into law a package of bipartisan expungement bills that reforms how Michigan residents can have portions of their criminal records wiped clean. The measure took effect in April.

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    The seven-bill, bipartisan package, dubbed the “Clean Slate” plan, gives thousands of residents options to clear their records of old criminal convictions. Advocates say that erasing convictions will allow residents with previous criminal histories to gain better access to housing and jobs.

    Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has stated up to 1 million Michigan residents may qualify for expungement under the new law that took effect this year. University of Michigan researchers estimate that only 6.5% of people successfully expunge a conviction from their record within five years of becoming eligible.

    Ryan Basore, founder of the Redemption Foundation, is aiming to change those numbers.

    “Many people are unaware of their eligibility, and even more are burdened by complicated forms and the hefty expense which can cost thousands of dollars on average,” said Basore. 

    Sons and Daughters United President Josey Scoggin touted the partnership.

    “The Great Lake Expungement Network has made it our mission to expunge as many criminal records as possible,” said Scoggin. “Our team is able to walk you through the application process, scan for eligibility, obtain necessary documents, and match you to an attorney who will represent you in court. Like many Michiganders, we believe in second chances.”

    Ken Coleman
    Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.