Thousands expected to flock to Wayne County 'Expungement Fair'

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — Thousands of people convicted of felonies and misdemeanors are expected to flock to a west-side church Saturday, hoping to cleanse their criminal records.

Wayne County and state officials are hosting an "Expungement Fair" from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Fellowship Chapel, 7707 West Outer Drive, to help people who were convicted of some crimes in Wayne County clean their legal slates.

"Since opening pre-registration on in early June, we had an overwhelming response," said a press release from the Wayne County Sheriff's Office, one of the agencies hosting the event.

Sheriff's officials said about 2,000 people applied for the program online. "Hundreds more have reached out showing interest," the release said.

Laws governing which cases may be expunged were expanded last year when the federal Clean Slate Act went into effect. Under the law, most criminal offenses are eligible to be expunged under certain circumstances.

Expungements clear the offender's public record, although law enforcement still has access to the files. Murder and criminal sexual conduct offenses are ineligible for expungement, as are traffic offenses.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy

"When people have paid their debt to society they should absolutely be allowed to move on with their lives," Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement. "Expungement can open up many employment opportunities that were unfortunately foreclosed due to having a prior record."

The free event is open only to people whose convictions were in Wayne County. Pre-registration is not necessary.

“For most of these people, it’s been a long time coming,” Wayne County Sheriff Raphael Washington said. “They’ve been passed over for jobs, housing, and other opportunities and have been judged by one mistake from long ago. Many of these folks have been trying to move on but continue to be burdened by their pasts."

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN