Erasing the memory of my past…

This week’s article/recording focuses on California’s recent vote to legalize recreational use of marijuana. Many of you were probably aware of this, but the more interesting (for me) was the San Francisco District Attorney’s announcement that “…his office will expunge or reduce convictions for possession and recreational use going back to 1975.” Now you may asking, “What is expungement?” You can click HERE to learn more about this term, but briefly it is the legally deleting one’s criminal conviction. Currently individuals can petition for expungement/reduction of her/his sentence, but apparently this process is complex and convoluted. As a result, the DA is proactively doing this or at least making the process much easier. So check out the sound recording of the interview as well as read over the article.

QUESTION: What do you think of this and why?



13 responses to “Erasing the memory of my past…”

  1. Heejung Moon says:

    Legalization of recreational use of marijuana has been a hot debate topic among people. While a few states have now made it legal, it was interesting to see George Gascón’s view focused on previous misdemeanor convictions. I personally think that what he is intending to do seems logical. It is true that the process of expungement is complex and costly. Also, people who were convicted for possession of marijuana definitely have disadvantages in life as mentioned in the article. Especially considering the fact that it was mostly poor people who were convicted, they do not have money to pay for the attorney from the first place to petition their convictions. Most importantly, Gascon mentioned that they are going through people’s data to check whether they are qualified for the relief. If they have other reasons for convictions or violent felonies, they get disqualified for the relief. This was the part that I was worried about the most before I read the whole article, but in my opinion, what they are doing seems rational so far.

  2. Jonathan MacMartin says:

    I believe that expunging the criminal records from marijuana only related felonies is a great idea. Having a felony on your rap sheet makes so many facets of your life harder. Getting a job is harder, finding a place to live is harder, owning a firearm is almost impossible, and some states do not even allow you to vote. If your only felony conviction involves marijuana I do not think that these punishments are fitting for the crime you committed. It is also commendable that district attorney Gascón is taking it upon himself to help these people instead of forcing them to come to him. Most people that have these felonies may not even know they can have them expunged. If they do know, they still might not be able to afford a lawyer or get the time off work to have their felony expunged. This is a great thing that Gascón has taken upon himself and his office. I hope that this opens the discussion for other cities and states as well. A lot of people could benefit from having these convictions expunged.

  3. Hali Nichols says:

    I think this is a really interesting topic. Recreational marijuana use has become such a hot topic in our society in recent years. I can see and understand both sides of the issue on expunging records. On one hand, at the time of the committed “crime” marijuana use was illegal and they were punished according to the law. Also, even if states legalize it is still illegal at the federal level. So expunging something that was illegal at the time and still illegal federally doesn’t seem to make sense. But on the other hand, having a conviction on your record could have devastating effects. It can make it hard to get a job, its something they carry around forever. And for something as little as possession of marijuana it doesn’t seem right. A lot of people could benefit having them expunged and if it is afford to everyone, despite their social economic status, I think it is a really good idea.

  4. Rachel Ellis says:

    I think this is very interesting because it is something that I have been thinking about since they’ve begun legalizing marijuana. With them legalizing marijuana and dropping cases that are marijuana related is a good idea. Since so many people are in jail for having marijuana and now that it is legalized does not seem like they should be in jail for it. Having this marijuana charge expunged many people could benefit from it. Some people become felons for having a small amount of marijuana and not that it is legal it may be unfair to those who have changed their lives around but still dealing with the consequences of this act.

  5. Kaleigh Cleaveland says:

    In general, I don’t have an issue with people smoking marijuana for recreational use – including those people who have been convicted for possession either recently or in the past. With the overcrowding problems of the U.S. incarceration system, I believe that expunging or reducing sentences for individuals who were convicted of marijuana possession would be a positive. It may depend on the amount they had or under what circumstances they were convicted under, but I could see most cases falling under the ability to be deleted or decreased. While possession is still illegal, I don’t find it to be as severe of an offense as other crimes such as violence, theft, etc..

  6. Trish Sorenson says:

    It seems as if I am one of the few left in the current college-aged generation who do not believe in legalizing marijuana, however in California this referendum passed. So then, I believe that they should tax the heck out of all marijuana sales to create a sizable revenue. Now, for the California District Attorney to go back through the files to expunge peoples’ records, I do think is admirable. Many drug users are low-income and do not have the means to file a petition with the courts. However, it was their initial choice to use the drugs so they should suffer the consequences, even if it is now legalized. I would be curious though if there would be any complaints to the DA regarding an abuse of power for just expunging the records of marijuana misdemeanors without going to court. Overall, I still have many questions regarding this topic.

  7. Brittany VanBoxtel says:

    I think that this is very interesting and I like this idea. By having recreational marijuana legal in California, they could potentially have less populated and over crowded prisons and jails. I personally do not see why people are being sentenced for such long terms for having a misdemeanor/felony conviction involving marijuana. There are more serious offenses and offenders out there that should be taking up the prison population, not for those who get caught being involved with marijuana. I think that it is good that they are treating every case differently and seeing if they qualify for relief of their conviction. If you have other convictions or violent felonies, then I too agree that they should not qualify for relief. I think it is good that they are treating everyone’s case differently whether or not they will have their case expunged, reduced or not at all due to not qualifying. This definitely has its pros and cons for those who get their felony case expunged. They will be able to enter the real world again, freely see their friends and family however, they will face troubles with renting a place to live, employers may not hire them, and they may not qualify for public assistance or apply for school loans. Regardless of California passing this law or not, anyone and everyone who has a felony conviction is going to face these types of problems once their sentence is over. I think that for those who qualify to get their case expunged or dismissed should not have to struggle and go through these types of issues after being released.

  8. Kazmarae Tyson says:

    The topic of the legalization of marijuana is quite interesting. Expunging the criminal records from marijuana related felonies is not a bad idea, it could reduce the over crowded population within their prisons and jails. There are many people in prison and jail for marijuana and it has already given them a label as criminal and ruined opportunities for them in life once they are released. In expunging the criminal records it could help benefit many people and allow them to get opportunities and chances that they before would have not been able to get before.

  9. Gina Gorman says:

    I think District Attorney Gascon explains the rationale for his decision very well and I do agree with him to an extent. I understand that a felony conviction for marijuana possession can rather cripple an individuals life by providing roadblocks to housing, voting, and job opportunities to name just a few. However, at the time of their convictions, marijuana possession was still illegal in California and I feel that that expunging these offenses off individual’s records could open up a can of worms. Will it stop at marijuana offenses? What kind of precedent does this set for future criminals? Will they think that the law is a pushover and that even though they may not get away with it now, eventually it could be erased? I’m glad to hear that they will not be expunging this offense off individual’s records who also have violent crimes. I do hold a very strong opinion on the topic of marijuana legalization, however, I’m not blind to the damaging effects a conviction has on an individual’s future.

  10. Gracie Blechl says:

    I agree that Marijuana possessions should be expunged from today on. To me marijuana is a minor drug compared to major ones like heroin so I consider it a minor offense. It would be like saying you’d be imprisoned for j-walking, because more and more people are caught with marijuana and arrests are rising each year so it’s getting harder to control the use of it. I’m sure the authorities can focus on something more serious and immediately life-threatening to the citizens of San Francisco than marijuana possession cases. San Francisco should focus on changing the future and not the past. Reaching back over what George Gascon said to be 5,000 cases would require hours of work for the police departments, which I think is a misuse of precious time, money and resources.

  11. Zachary Jahnke says:

    I believe that expunging is great idea for individuals who got caught with Marijuana. The main reason on why I am for it, is that criminals who got locked for marijuana and have these felonies on their record make it very difficult to get a job since they have tell the companies that they have a felony on their record. Not only does it affect them getting a job it makes it very difficult to get loans so that individuals can buy a house. I think that other states are going to look more into expunging criminals who were caught with marijuana so that it can make their life a little bit easier.

  12. Maddie Vavrik says:

    I think this is a very interesting topic because I can see both the positives and the negatives to it. I think it’s kind of weird to think that they are going to expunge the previous cases even though marijuana use at the time was illegal, so they are basically un-punishing people for something that was not legal at the time, but since it is legal now they are going to erase it. I also do find it strange that the record would still be accessible by the government. I feel like in this case they should just erase it completely, except for the people of course who are convicted of multiple felonies. But I can also see this from a more positive side that they could finally be realizing how many people are finally getting convicted for the illegal use of marijuana and how this could be causing the overcrowding in prisons. I feel like this is a big step towards a major change in the United States that could save us a lot of money and time on convicting such small crimes and finally be able to focus ourselves on the bigger, more dangerous crimes that are happening everyday all over the country.

  13. Cherish Haynes says:

    Honestly, this is a topic that I was just disgusting with a group of colleagues so its funny that this week blog is this topic. I believe that marijuana has it pros and it has it cons. I think the cons of marijuana is someone committing a serious crime while being under the influence of marijuana then blaming it on the marijuana. In my eyes thats when it should be expunge. Now I strongly believe that Marijuana is a small drug and there are many more serious crimes and other strong drugs thats being used in society. I think that possession of marijuana should be expunge off the record since its legal for people who has some type of Cancer. Honestly, after a while it will become an excuse as a reason to use marijuana because “they” have cancer. I have seen many cases where people say this lie when being pulled over for the possession of marijuana. I don’t believe that DA office in San Francisco should waste a whole year expunging someone case for the possession of marijuana. I think there are bigger cases to handle out here in the world. I do believe that people shouldn’t get locked or sent to prison for the possession of marijuana because, its minor and that would help reduce a lot of the prison spaces for the real criminals out here.

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