Lawmaker introduces bill to expand state's expungement laws for low-level convictions

Tamika Mallory said she was about 20 years old when she got into legal trouble.

"...probably about 20 years ago and I made some mistakes," said Mallory. 

And those mistakes have impeded her ability to pursue any life goal.

"I have 2 misdemeanor marijuana convictions and a traffic violation. I went to the expungement program and tried to get my record expunged," she said. "They wouldn't expunge it."

Mallory is one of hundreds of thousands of people with low-level criminal convictions that may be facing legal relief in the coming months. A lawmaker wants to expand Michigan's expungement laws, giving people like Mallory a second chance.

 "It massively expands expungement in the state of Michigan. It will make Michigan a national leader in expungement reform," said Graham Filler, a Republican from Clinton County.

Filler, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee said his bill would increase the number of people eligible for expungement. Someone with up to three felonies could clear their record, while some offenders could see automatic relief.

The convictions include marijuana and traffic-related crimes. 

"I call it an opening salvo and we're up for all kinds of conversations going forward," said Filler.

Often people applying for jobs or looking for a place to live never hear good news after a background check. All the qualifications in the world don't mean anything when a peak into someone's history reveals poor decisions made decades ago.

However, some don't think the expungement statute goes far enough.

"I was 17 years old, convicted of possession of a firearm in Lansing, Michigan in 1991," said Hakim Crampton, "and in that same year unfortunately I went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I got convicted of a murder charge that I was wrongly convicted of."

He won his freedom of the murder charge, but the firearm possession felony remains. If the bill passes, it wouldn't help him.

Regardless of how far the law would be expanded, there was evidence at Monday's news conference that expungement does work. 

"It opened up doors for me where I could pursue my dreams without having to worry about the convictions," said Ted Kelly

Filler's legislation is expected to be introduced this week, and will hopefully be moved to committee as soon as Sept. 24.