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Kalamazoo Expungement Fair helps people get a "clean slate"

seal on the wall that says Prosecuting Attorney Kalamazoo County
Many people with felony convictions who are eligible for expungement do not apply.

April is Second Chances Month, a nationwide effort to awareness about the obstacles faced by the formerly incarcerated.

A criminal record can make it difficult to find housing or employment, and many people might not know they’re eligible to have their records expunged. That’s according to Nation Outside, a group that advocates for the formerly incarcerated. It’s co-sponsoring Expungement Fairs across the state.

The Douglas Community Association in Kalamazoo is hosting an event Friday to help people expunge their criminal records. Attendees can find out whether they qualify for expungement, and might be able to apply right at the event. Tenee Gildea is with Nation Outside. She was formerly incarcerated, and said many employers are still reluctant to hire someone who has a felony on their record.  

“People are like, ‘there’s nobody to work, nobody’s here to work’,” she said. “Well, we are here. You just won’t hire us, and we absolutely deserve to have a living wage.”    

Sean Duross is also with Nation Outside. He had his own criminal record expunged, and said the process was much easier than he expected.

“Before I knew it, I had a hearing and that twenty-year-old felony, that twenty-year-old conviction, was set aside,” he said. “Now I can apply for things like housing and employment and be judged on the person I am today, and not be judged on the worst moment of my life from two decades ago.”

According to Nation Outside, those who have their records expunged are less likely to reoffend.

“People talk about Michigan Department of Corrections, not Michigan department of punishment,” said Duross. “The idea that people can build and work toward a second chance, toward a better life, but we have to at least give the opportunity to do that.”

The Kalamazoo Expungement Fair takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday at the Douglas Community Association in Kalamazoo. Walk-ins are encouraged. Another fair will take place in Jackson later this month. More information is available at