California arrest records have been wiped for those residents with previous convictions for marijuana. This follows an initiative back in 2016 whereby voters had backed to de-criminalise the use of marijuana (recreational use). Thousands could now have their pot convictions wiped (misdemeanor) automatically while thousands more could see their felony charges re-categorized. The district attorney for San Francisco announced the move would be retroactive. Furthermore that the new legislation would apply to all relevant California arrest records dating back to 1975. Around 3,000 misdemeanor records could be wiped and sealed. A further 5,000 felony cases to be reviewed and possibly converted to lesser sentences.
California arrest records along with similar state wide thinking is that misdemeanours and felony’s involving marijuana possession represent a grey area in attempting to separate the nuisance value from dangerous intention. Criminal convictions remain a serious bar to employment, housing and benefits and proven to increase recidivism. Voters in San Francisco had, overwhelmingly, voted positively for legalisation. This allows those still serving out their punishments to make an application for review of the sentence while allowing those past offenders to have records dismissed or reduced. However as at December the state confirmed it only had around 5,000 petitions according to The Drug Policy Alliance since Prop 64 took effect.
In San Diego County similar efforts were also underway. Following the recent election a review had seen 680 residents benefit. The county had focused it’s efforts on those still in custody or on probation. Some of those currently incarcerated now released. Predominantly black victims have benefited from the automation of the expungement process. Proposition 64 will address the federal war on drugs program. Without doubt positive news and will see many lives turned round it is only too easy to forget the disruption and hardship already caused.
California prop 64 arrest records expungement gathers pace
Hardship endured for decades to Californians and the resources in righting California arrest records. Even following State wide partial decriminalization in 1976, between 20,000 and 60,000 arrests made by law enforcement each year to 2011. These arrests were for minor marijuana infractions. Possession of at least an ounce was a ticketable offense without an associated misdemeanor charge.
The Trump administration also under fire and as a contrast to San Francisco the federal drug policy going backwards. Jeff Sessions sceptical of relaxing marijuana laws and recently rescinding the detached federal approach (legal marijuana states), cannabis seen as a dangerous substance. The States that have legalised cannabis have slammed this decision. Both Democrats and Republicans have accused Sessions of ducking previous promises and ignoring the rights of States. Irrespective if thousands of petitions granted and expungements wiped automatically it barely scratches the surface. The backlog of previous misdemeanours stands at significant levels.
Cannabis arrests (Misdemeanor) through 1976 to 2016 totalled 1,457,605 however the correlation isn’t relative to previous misdemeanours. The figure of almost 1.5 million perhaps slightly off centre as some arrests may not have seen a conviction. While some individual’s may be responsible for more than one arrest, asides from this cannabis charges should fall off automatically after a two year period. The process though unreliable and most required to file to to clear their record. Please follow this link to read more about the Drug Policy Alliance efforts for Marijuana Reform in California.