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LaFave explains expungement votes

LANSING – State Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, said he voted against an expungement reform plan in the Michigan House this week because the proposal excludes several types of people who deserve a second chance.

LaFave said he believes people with old criminal convictions deserve an opportunity to start fresh once they have paid their debt to society. However, he was compelled to vote against the legislation after learning that it excludes people convicted of driving under the influence.

“People convicted of serious offenses, including domestic abuse, can have their records wiped clean under this bill package, but an individual who blows 0.08 — who didn’t cause any injuries, didn’t cause a crash — can never get their second chance,” LaFave said in a speech on the House floor Tuesday. “I’m incredibly optimistic about the benefits this will have for thousands of Michiganders, but I’m incredibly disappointed that we’re not giving the 22-year-old who had three beers at the bar and didn’t hurt anybody the same second chance we’re giving to domestic abusers.”

LaFave introduced an amendment to include OWI offenses in the legislation, but it was ultimately not adopted.

“I’m not saying drinking and driving is OK, but if we’re going to talk about crimes that keep people from getting jobs, the top one in the Upper Peninsula is a first-time OWI, not causing injury or death,” LaFave said. “We should be giving second chances to everyone who earns one, not just a select few. True criminal justice reform will allow an individual who makes the mistake of getting behind the wheel after celebrating with one beer too many on his or her 21st birthday to get their record expunged.”

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