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Sealing Records for Low-Level Marijuana Offenses Could Help Prevent Deportations in Trump America

New York’s marijuana arrest crusade began more than 20 years ago. Since then, police departments across the state have arrested more than 800,000 New Yorkers for low-level marijuana possession offenses.

crystal peoples-stokes new york sealing records assembly member
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Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes:
“Sealing low-level marijuana possession convictions is the first step to reintegrating thousands of New Yorkers who are inhibited daily from accessing employment, housing and education”
[New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators, Inc.]

In 2016, more than 22,000 New Yorkers were arrested for possession of small amounts of marijuana – 80 percent of whom were black or Latino. What’s worse, many of these arrests were the product of an unconstitutional stop. Once convicted, a permanent record can follow these mostly young people of color for the rest of their lives – a record easily found by banks, schools, employers, landlords, and licensing boards.

Today, thousands of New Yorkers are still being burdened by these marijuana arrests, even after the Governor and law enforcement officials admitted they were wrong.

Recently, the New York State Assembly passed a landmark piece of legislation to provide some reprieve for those who have been most criminalized in our state. The responsibility for pushing this bill forward now falls to the Senate and the Governor, who have an opportunity to right a wrong by sealing these arrests.

This sealing legislation has also taken on increased importance amid the Trump Administration’s rhetoric and actions targeting immigrant communities. Simple marijuana possession is the fourth most common cause of deportation at the national level, and sealing records will provide a measure of protection for noncitizens by making it difficult or impossible for immigration authorities to meet their legal burden of proof for a judge to find a lawful permanent resident deportable.

On Tuesday, February 28 advocates will demand reprieve for the harm that has been caused and mobilize for legislative solutions to keep New York families together.

What: Press Conference: Advocates Push Crucial Legislation to Seal Past Marijuana Possession Convictions
When: Tuesday, February 28 at 11:30am
Where: Great Western Staircase (Million Dollar Staircase), New York State Capitol, Albany, NY
Who: Drug Policy Alliance
Brooklyn Defender Services
Legal Aid Society
Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes
Senator Jamaal Bailey
Senator Jesse Hamilton
Assemblymember Luis Sepúlveda
Assemblymember Marcos A. Crespo
Assemblymember Walter T. Mosley


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