Oakland County Recognizes Importance of Second Chances

Public safety and fairness in the criminal justice system

While April was Second Chance Month, Oakland County continues to recognize the importance of raising awareness about the obstacles faced by more than 70 million Americans with a criminal record and unlocking opportunities for them to succeed.

Oakland County keeps residents safe from crime, ensures that all people are treated fairly by the criminal justice system, and helps put offenders on the path to productive lives as part of the Public Safety & Fairness in the Criminal Justice System goal in our five-year road map.

Fair and equal justice in Oakland County requires opportunities for rehabilitation and redemption.

Approximately one in three American adults has a criminal record, which drastically limits their access to work, education, housing, and other things necessary to reach their full potential. A recent study conducted by two University of Michigan Law School professors found that those whose criminal records are set aside experience “a sharp upturn in their wage and employment trajectories.”

Indigent Defense Services Office

The Oakland County Indigent Defense Services Office ensures that Oakland County provides competent, caring, and effective legal representation to every person charged with a crime in our System regardless of their ability to pay for an attorney.

The IDSO is responsible for providing appointed attorneys to people who meet all of the following criteria:

  • Are indigent, meaning the person cannot afford to hire an attorney
  • Are an adult
  • Are charged with a felony crime in any Oakland County court or are charged with a misdemeanor crime in one of the divisions of the 52nd District Court (Novi, Clarkston, Rochester Hills, or Troy).

Clean Slate Program

Persons with select criminal convictions may be eligible to have them removed from public records at no-cost through the Oakland County Clean Slate Program, administered by Oakland County Michigan Works! Learn more:

Expungement opens the doors to better jobs, better housing choices and educational opportunities, which translates into a better quality of life. The process can take up to six months to complete. You must be a current Oakland County resident to qualify for expungement assistance.

Documentation about your specific felony or misdemeanor, including impaired driving, will be reviewed and, if you meet eligibility criteria, we can help you complete the review process for expunging your record.

Learn more about eligibility factors:

Check out this video for a full tutorial on how to register and apply:

Conviction Integrity Unit

Sometimes the only thing that stands between an innocent person and prison is their attorney, the prosecutor, or law enforcement – each with their own biases and prejudices. The criminal justice system can get it wrong with devastating impacts. Wrongful convictions due to error or intentional malfeasance can result in imprisoning an innocent person for years.

Learn more about the county’s Conviction Integrity Unit:

The Conviction Integrity Unit of the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office pledges to conduct a review and investigation of each eligible claim. Information gathered through a CIU investigation will be used to support the development of officewide policies, protocols, and training to help prevent future wrongful convictions, because the ultimate goal of the CIU is to make the need for the CIU obsolete.

“It is my responsibility as Oakland County Prosecutor to ensure that the individuals who claim to have been wrongfully convicted by our Courts have a process to be heard fairly and impartially. Our Conviction Integrity Unit will help those individuals access the relief to which they are more than entitled by evaluating each claim of innocence fairly, impartially, and rigorously. Just as we cannot sit by and allow victims of crime to go without advocates or a voice, we also cannot sit by and allow those who are innocent to be punished for crimes they did not commit.”

-Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald

Prosecutor’s Office Resources

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald’s policy priorities include charging fairness, conviction integrity, diversion and treatment, juvenile justice, organizational culture, prosecutorial discretion, and racial equity.

To learn more about resources offered by the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


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