State rep organizes 'expungement fair'

Legal Aid and Defender Association, Inc. (LAD) joined five co-sponsors in conducting a "Parole Readiness Workshop & Expungement Fair" for former criminal offenders June 11 at Detroit Hispanic Development Corp. (DHDC), 1211 Trumbull St.

State Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-6th District) organized the event because "there's such a big need" for ex-offenders to expunge their criminal convictions from the public record.

In addition to Chang's office, LAD and DHDC, co-sponsors of the event were the Michigan Criminal Justice Program of the American Friends Service Committee, the Detroit and Michigan Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, and the Southwest Detroit Community Justice Center.

Donna Lassa, a LAD staff attorney, delivered a presentation on expungement in Michigan. The state allows for the expungement, or removal from the public record, of many kinds of criminal convictions after a waiting period of five or more years, she said.

"This presentation is entitled 'People Change,' because it's true, and Michigan's expungement statute is an acknowledgement of that," Lassa said.

"The law became more complex this year, but the changes have opened the door to a new start for more people," Lassa said.

After the presentation, several pro bono attorneys helped LAD interview former offenders and open expungement cases for those who were eligible.

Published: Thu, Jul 02, 2015

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