Research Mentor(s): LaNeice Jones, CEO
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Southwest Detroit Community Justice Center,
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 5 (3pm-3:50pm)
Breakout Room: Room 6
On October 12th, 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a series of bills into law, the most significant and popular of these being the “Clean Slate Bill”. “For too long, criminal charges have created barriers to employment, barriers to housing and others for hundreds of thousands of Michiganders. These bipartisan bills are going to be a game-changer,” Whitmer said. This bill will affect hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents who have criminal records and traffic violations with the first aspects of the bill going into effect on April 10th, 2021. The Southwest Detroit Community Justice Center (SWDCJC) is passionate about criminal justice reform and fair access to the justice system. The nonprofit’s mission statement states, “The mission of the Southwest Detroit Community Justice Center is to increase public trust in the justice system, assist in the reduction of crime, improve the quality of life and meet the needs of the community.” SWDCJC’s focus is four zip code areas in Detroit and the organization’s CEO and my research mentor LaNeice Jones has been committed to promoting education and criminal reform for over a year. The organization has hosted several events to help prevent offenses and reform those who already have offenses. Specifically, this research project was made to find best practices to spread the word about the Clean Slate Bill to help expunge the records of thousands of individuals. We are increasing awareness of this bill by synthesizing information to distribute to the community, collecting statistics for grant writing, and hosting an “Ask the Judge” event to educate the greater community about the ins and outs of this bill. Our ultimate goal is to help people expunge their records so they can have a greater opportunity to apply to better jobs and participate in services that are restricted to people with criminal records. Increasing access to job opportunities by expunging records will help fuel diversity of thought and region to many different career paths, and give people a second chance who desperately deserve one.