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Michigan institution implements new criminal charge policy

Criminal charges are designed to rectify a social wrong; if a person commits a crime that damages society, fines or time in prison or jail eliminate the debt that person holds to citizens. But there are consequences for convicted people beyond the time spent fulfilling this debt. Many people never recover from the social and economic damage that a conviction confers.

In some cases, charges alone can amount to problems for a person's family and career. A large university in Michigan has instituted a new policy requiring faculty and staff to disclose a felony charge or conviction within a week of receiving notice or being arrested. Some critics, including several at the university, have objected to possible "devastating consequences for marginalized groups."

"Everything we teach in history shows that you cannot create a non-biased process and impose it on a biased society," said a history professor at the university who helped craft the official objection to the policy. Others are concerned this move takes the university further away from the contemporary drive to eliminate criminal acts and convictions as a basis for denying employment opportunities.

Regardless of an institutional approach to criminal charges, past charges and convictions limit people's ability to seek career opportunities and support themselves and their families. As a result, it is imperative that defendants fight the charges against them, so they do not have to pay for the rest of their lives.

An attorney can help review the evidence and build a defense against prosecution for drug crimes and other offenses. A lawyer may be the best ally for someone charged with a crime.

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