Randall Woodfin, celebrated 420 and amnesty 15,000 records related to weed
While the twentieth day of the fourth month has no special meaning for anyone outside of the weed industry, Birmingham, Alabama Mayor Randall Woodfin gave residents a reason to celebrate 420 when he officially pardoned anyone convicted of marijuana possession by the city over the past three decades.
General forgiveness condemned everything
On Tuesday, Woodfin announced a general pardon for anyone convicted of possession of marijuana by Birmingham City Courts between 1990 and 2020. This general pardon, granted as part of the city’s Pardons for Progress initiative, did go up in smoke over 15,000 cases of possession. In an exclusive interview with The Root, Mr Woodfin explained that it was a last-ditch effort to mitigate the devastating effects of the war on drugs.
” We launched Pardon’s for Progress in 2019, ”explained the 2018 Root 100 winner.“ The purpose of the program was to help those convicted of marijuana obtain a driver’s license, employment and other opportunities. But I was not satisfied with the number of people who attended. “
Progress for Pardons allowed anyone convicted of a marijuana possession offense to apply for a pardon and have their conviction sealed. After fewer than 20 people signed up for the project, many of whom were from out of town, the mayor launched a campaign that included media appearances, town halls and a direct mail campaign to educate citizens of the city. initiative, in vain. Undeterred, the mayor concluded that there was only one thing left for him to do.
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Woodfin’s decree only affects people who have been convicted by the city’s municipal courts and does not affect ongoing cases. However, the mayor’s office noted that citizens with open cases can still apply for a pardon through Pardons for Progress once the case has been adjudicated. Mr Woodfin was also careful to clarify that while the general pardon eliminates marijuana convictions, erasing a case from a person’s criminal record requires an additional step that is only accessible by the State of Alabama.
Woodfin also explained that the mayor’s office is actively engaged with the police department on how law enforcement officers relate to marijuana offenses. “There are some things we can’t do,” said Woodfin. “But I’m in conversation with the police chief about how our police interact with citizens and we continue to find this out. “
Alabama is one of fourteen states where possession of marijuana is illegal under state and federal law. Thirty-six states recognize the use of cannabis for medical purposes, along with the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Seventeen states have authorized recreational use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Blacks in Alabam are four times more likely to be arrested for possession of weed. Community leaders in Birmingham, America’s fifth black city, have long pushed to reduce the effects of prohibition which disproportionately affects black citizens. A bill to legalize medicinal marijuana is currently making its way through the Alabama legislature, although lawmakers have repeatedly voted against similar measures, including a recent bill to expunge convictions. related to grass after five years. In 2019, the county sheriff’s department experimented with a plan to ‘summon and release’ those charged with possession of marijuana, but the plan was quickly halted when it violated city regulations. State that excludes municipal courts from fines for an offense involving the consumption of a controlled substance.
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The mayor of Birmingham is hopeful that other mayors will use their pardon right in the same way, adding that the plan is not just about criminal justice reform. Eliminating convictions for marijuana use has economic and quality of life implications that go beyond the justice systems.
“It’s about jobs and efficient use of taxpayer funds,” he told The Root. “This will free up resources and allow police officers to solve more crimes, which will make people safer. No one should be held back by a single past mistake. No one should be denied employment opportunities or freedoms because of past missteps. “
“They deserve a chance to be part of our workforce, to support their families and to be successful on their own,” added Mr. Woodfin. “This new life begins here, today, with forgiveness and redemption. “
On the official government website it is listed; * Due to the large number of cases that will be pardoned, allow time for Birmingham City Court to finalize all eligible cases.