Mayor, partners celebrate 10,000th pathway to opportunity created through Project Clean Slate

  •  Program has expunged 10,000 convictions since Mayor Duggan created innovative program in 2016
  • Project Clean Slate has changed thousands of Detroiters’ lives by removing barrier to opportunity that had existed for many for decades
  • Program expunged 8 records in 2017; 5,300 in 2023
  • Working with courts and others, program removes convictions dating back at least three years to give individuals a chance at a new beginning


Thousands of Detroiters who have wanted to work and be a part of the city’s comeback now have that opportunity, thanks to the City’s Project Clean Slate initiative, which just recently completed its 10,000th successful expungement, Mayor Mike Duggan announced today.   

 The goal of Project Clean Slate is to help Detroiters clear their criminal records to create additional opportunities for employment, education, and housing.  Mayor Duggan created the innovative program in 2016, which obtained its first 8 expungements the next year.  The program has become so successful, it helped Detroiters expunge more than 5,300 convictions last year alone.  

 “We created Project Clean Slate because we saw two things – growing opportunity in our city and a lot of our citizens who couldn’t access much of it because of past mistakes they had made, many of which are decades old,” the Mayor said. “Detroit is a city of second chance and Project Clean Slate is making sure thousands of Detroiters now have their second chance to participate in their city’s revitalization. They didn’t give up on Detroit and Detroit didn't give up on them.”  

 PCS is a nationally recognized program and model for other cities. While other municipalities have programs that coordinate volunteer attorneys to conduct expungements, research conducted demonstrates that PCS is the only city-run program that employs full-time attorneys with the sole purpose of expunging records.  

 Who is eligible 

Thousands of Detroiters are eligible for criminal record expungement. Under state law, residents who have convictions that date back at least three, five, or seven years may be eligible to have those convictions expunged. However, many of them do not seek expungement because they do not know they are eligible or do not know how to navigate the process. PCS helps Detroit residents remove those barriers by determining whether applicants are eligible for expungement, and if so, increasing the likelihood of a successful application by providing dedicated attorney support.  

 How it works 

The expungement process is complex and involves many steps with several entities - the courts, Michigan State Police, the Attorney General’s Office, and multiple prosecutors. The process also requires applicants to provide fingerprints as a part of the process. PCS staff and attorneys handle all steps of the expungement process - from preparing the expungement application to representing clients at court hearings.  

PCS has leveraged its place within city government to partner with other city/county agencies to streamline the process.  

  • The Detroit Police Department permits PCS to meet clients at a precinct weekly to sign expungement paperwork and take advantage of DPD’s fingerprinting services – for free. 
  • The Third Circuit Court permitted Registers of Action to be used in place of decades old orders, which were often difficult to locate. The Court recently changed its efiling process to allow PCS to submit Orders via MiFile, the State’s efiling These two changes have streamlined the process immensely. 
  • The Michigan State Police provides PCS free use of the Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT) - typically $10/record.
  • Various courts provide certified records to PCS at no cost.

Impact of 2021 Expungement Legislation 

The prior expungement statute was restrictive; fewer than 10% of applicants were eligible. In 2019, Mayor Duggan worked with a bi-partisan group of state legislators to reform the state’s expungement law. The reforms greatly expanded the number and types of convictions eligible for expungement - more than doubling the number of Detroiters eligible. The bills were signed into law on October 12, 2020 and went into effect on April 11, 2021. 

On April 11, 2023, a new section of the legislation took effect, which allows for automatic expungement of a certain number and type of convictions. Automatic expungement has been a huge benefit to the PCS team and their clients. It has sped up the timeline for filing other convictions and obliviated the need for hearings in many others. 

The new legislation created the opportunity for more Detroiters to benefit from PCS, and the enthusiasm for the program is high; over 35,000 Detroiters have registered for PCS since 2016 – with over 30,000 registering since the new legislation took effect.  

Year                       Records Expunged                            

2016                       0 

2017                       8 

2018                       119 

2019                       263 

2020                       294 

2021                       730 

2022                       1,724 

2023                       5,336 

2024                       1,693 (as of 4/29/24) 


Remarkably, of the more than 10,000 applications filed, only 40 have not been approved for various reasons, giving the program a success rate of 99.7%. 


PCS has helped over 10,100 Detroiters get their records expunged since 2016. A staggering 90% of clients cited new or better employment opportunities as being the primary motivator for seeking expungement, and 82% of clients that were surveyed post-expungement cited the removal of stigma as the primary benefit. One client, for example, received an expungement and went from making $10/hour to $26/hour. Others talk about the increased confidence they have in seeking new employment opportunities. Still others report that their expungement allowed for them to gain new employment and support their families, participating in children’s field trips and volunteering at schools. 


PCS recognizes the importance of having quantitative outcomes for determining impact.  Thus, the program has partnered with the University of Michigan, Center for Poverty Solutions, and JJ Prescott and Sonja Starr, authors of University of Michigan Empirical Expungement Study, 2019 to conduct a study of PCS participants and client outcomes post expungement. This will be conducted at no cost to PCS. When the study is complete, PCS will have an impact report with data to support its need, its work, and its place in City government. 

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Mayor Duggan thanks city works and state partners for their collaborative efforts on Project Clean Slate.


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Nicholas DuBose describes how his quality of life has improved significantly after participating in Project Clean Slate.


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