How clean slates inspire comebacks

September 27, 2019

min read

For the nearly 20 million Americans convicted of a felony, moving forward in life – securing housing, going to school, getting a job – can seem impossible.

In a new op-ed for the Detroit Free Press, Mark Holden, senior vice president for Koch Industries, and David Plouffe, head of policy and advocacy for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, encourage Michigan lawmakers to move forward with legislation that will automate the expungement process for those who qualify.

Having a criminal record reduces a job applicant’s chances of hearing back from a potential employer by 50%, they write, noting that the Center for Economic and Policy Research estimates the resulting reduction in employment adds up to $87 billion in GDP annually. Such records can also negatively affect the ability to get into college and to find housing.

Pointing to the success of recent “Clean Slate” legislation in Pennsylvania and Utah, they make an economic and moral case for reform.

“Mistakes are part of being human, but so are comebacks. When we define people by the worst thing they’ve ever done, the nation loses out — economically and morally,” they write. “Lawmakers should be applauded for their willingness to give more Michiganders a fresh start.”

Read their full op-ed in the Detroit Free Press.