National Expungement Week
A coalition of more than three dozen organizations working at the intersection of cannabis, racial equity, and reparative justice are gearing up for the second annual National Expungement Week (N.E.W.). From September 21-28, 2019, over thirty cities throughout the U.S. will be offering events featuring free clinics to help remove, seal, or reclassify eligible convictions from criminal records, as well as provide educational workshops, voter registration, and employment services.
Activists, organizers, teams of attorneys and volunteers nationwide, led by Cage-Free Cannabis and Equity First Alliance, have made over 40 events possible in almost twice as many participating cities as in 2018. Last year, the very first N.E.W. helped nearly 300 people to clear or seal their records. Over 400 people also received access to related social services and health screenings.
Sponsors for these widespread events include Houseplant and Canopy Growth Corporations, NE.W.’s Michigan partners include African American Leadership Institute, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Om of Medicine, Delta Sigma Theta, Michigan Liberation, Iconic Hemp, Perpetual Harvest Sustainable Solutions, Michigan Cannabis Industry Association (MiCIA), Cannabis Legal Group, Black Men Stand, Loud.Social, Luv Infinite, Sticky Ypsi, Layfield Resume, Rising Star and many community-based organizations working towards repairing the injustices caused by the War on Drugs.
“Too many people are locked up in this country, and far too many people are still locked out of society long after they’ve completed their sentence. This week offers a way to provide legal relief and wraparound services to justice-impacted people and their families while calling for automated expungement,” says Torie Marshall, director of programs at Cage-Free Repair [told the Michigan Chronicle].
Because of the widespread conversation regarding reparative justice in the cannabis industry, expungement is becoming a major part of reforming cannabis laws. The recently introduced marijuana expungement bill is part of a six-bill package that would expand expungement policy allowing more non-assaultive crimes to be cleared from records of people living in Michigan. The bill would give people with up to three, non-assaultive felonies or some traffic offenses to get their records cleared, it would give automatic expungement for certain offenders, it would allow forgiveness for acts where multiple felonies or misdemeanors arise from the same incident, and shorten the eligibility period for expungement from seven to three years depending on the crime.
“We are demonstrating that government can make good on its promises, especially to those who have been denied jobs, housing, and other opportunities because of their criminal record,” said Jennifer Pahlka, founder and executive director of Code for America. “Clear My Record is igniting change across the state and the nation.”
To further the importance of N.E.W., National Voter Registration Day is on Tuesday, September 24, 2019. Endorsed by the National Association of Secretaries of State as well as other National Election commissions and officials, this day gives millions of Americans the opportunity to vote through providing helpful resources. Many people find themselves unable to vote because they miss a registration deadline, don’t update their registration, or aren’t sure how to register. On Tuesday, volunteers and organizations will come together in an effort to broaden awareness of voter registration for those who may not register otherwise. In 2018, over 800,000 people used National Voters Registration Day to register to vote throughout the U.S. with the help of over 10,000 local volunteers. Uniting for a Common Purpose: National Voter Registration Day is a day of civic unity.
Attorney Robyn L. McCoy, who is also an educational advocate and attorney with the Michigan Children’s Law Center, said that “it is important that we educate people on how to redeem themselves and set aside their criminal convictions and that we do what is necessary to expand the expungement statutes so that more people are given the opportunity to clear their records, get a job and become productive citizens.”
List of Expungement Workshops in Michigan:
Date: September 21, 2019
Time: 12 – 3 p.m.
Location: Detroit Recovery Project | 1145 West Grand Boulevard, Detroit, MI 48208
Date: September 23, 2019
Time: 3 – 8 p.m.
Location: Union Missionary Baptist Church | 500 South Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Lansing, MI 48915
Date: September 23, 2019
Time: 12 – 2 p.m.
Location: Oakland Community College Royal Oak Campus | 739 South Washington Avenue, Royal Oak, MI 48067
Date: September 24, 2019
Time: 5 – 9 p.m.
Location: Your Emerging Space
Date: September 28, 2019
Time: 10a.m. – 3p.m.
Location: Straight Gate International Church | 10100 Grand River Ave, Detroit, MI 48204