New York legislators are taking a big step in the right direction after the war on drugs has continued to wreak havoc disproportionately on low-income areas for 40 years. In the last 20 years alone, over 700,000 New Yorkers have been arrested for possession of marijuana, and each conviction comes with harsh penalties that last far beyond jail-time. The state assembly passed a bill this week that would seal the criminal records of everyone arrested for possession of marijuana, which means the records will be be virtually non-existent without a court ordered review. By lifting prior marijuana arrests, citizens will have the chance to reintegrate into normal jobs and once again be eligible for loans and certain state programs.
Yesterday, the New York State Assembly voted in support of A10092, a bill that will seal the criminal records of people who have been unjustly and unconstitutionally arrested for simple possession of marijuana in public view. The bipartisan vote was 99 in favor and 42 opposed. Over the last 20 years, over 700,000 New Yorkers have been arrested for simple possession of marijuana. Those convicted face significant barriers to accessing education, employment, housing opportunities, and other state services.
“This bill represents a small – but meaningful – step toward repairing the damage done throughout decades of harmful criminalization of minor drug offenses,” said Bernadette Brown, Deputy Legislative Director with the NYCLU. “Nobody should have to face unemployment, custody proceedings, or homelessness because of a conviction for low-level marijuana possession. We now call upon the Senate to pass this measure.”