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A group of workforce development and nonprofit partners will host an “expungement clinic” in the region this week.
West Michigan Works!, Talent 2025, the Black Women’s Caucus, Goodwill Industries and the Muskegon County Public Defender are teaming up to host a clinic that will help individuals with a prior conviction prepare to file for expungement.
The event will take place on from 2-8 p.m. Jan. 16 at the West Michigan Works! Muskegon Lakeshore office at 316 Morris Ave. in Muskegon.
Volunteer attorneys will assist participants in preparing to petition the court to have their conviction set aside.
“The majority of individuals who are eligible for expungement don’t try because they fear the justice system, and it is hard to navigate,” said Marianne Darnell, president, Black Women’s Political Caucus. “We want to change that. There is hope, and we can help.”
The expungement clinic is one of 19 projects that are a part of Livability Lab — a cross-sector collaborative effort to find ways to systemically increase equity for Muskegon County citizens, which the Business Journal reported on Monday.
“Through our work with Livability Lab, we identified that one way to create more equity for Muskegon County is through expungement,” said Kathy Rohlman, talent solutions manager, West Michigan Works! in Muskegon County. “Having convictions set aside offers greater opportunities for individuals to gain training, employment and housing, which changes their financial and mental outlook.”
According to a working paper by researchers at the University of Michigan, people who have a conviction set aside are 11 percent more likely to be employed and see a 22 percent increase in income.
Research by Talent 2025 indicates that, in 2018, only 504 of the more than 31,000 employers in the region hired returning citizens.
Interested individuals should register in advance online at bit.ly/Muskegon-Expungement.
The first 100 registered participants will receive a free Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT) report.
Individuals registering after the first 100 can still attend but will need to bring $10 for the ICHAT fee, payable by cash or credit card.