Working at the intersection of the cannabis industry, racial equity, and reparative justice, National Expungement Week seeks to right some of the wrongs of a harsh criminal justice system.
Actor/Producer and cannabis advocate Seth Rogen released a PSA to remind people about the importance of upcoming National Expungement Week (N.E.W.), taking place from September 21-28, 2019.
Rogen, whose cannabis brand Houseplant is a presenting sponsor of the nationwide effort, breaks down how millions of Americans with convictions can lose access to housing, employment, education, public assistance, and voting rights even after they’ve served their sentences.
At least 40 events across the U.S. will be going on during N.E.W. Attendees will learn from legal experts how to get their arrest records expunged and where to receive the necessary forms to apply for legal relief.
US: largest prison population in the world.
Some 77 million Americans, or 1 in 3 adults, have a criminal record.
The Drug Policy Alliance has the data:
1,632,921 – Number of arrests in 2017 in the U.S. for drug law violations
1,394,514 (85.4 percent) – Number of drug arrests that were for possession only
659,700 – Number of people arrested for a marijuana law violation in 2017
The goal of the National Expungement Week is to provide legal services to as many people as possible by clearing up the convictions on their records that are preventing them from getting good jobs, housing, educational loans, public assistance, and voting, in many cases.
While the expungement services are open to everyone in need, a large number of people expected to seek help are victims of the War on Drugs, say organizers.
N.E.W. events include help from teams of attorneys, organizers, and activists nationwide who will provide information on expungement opportunities where possible, with over 40 events scheduled to take place throughout the week
“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,” says Torie Marshall, of Cage-Free Repair, one of the leading members of the coalition of more than three dozen organizations working with N.E.W.
“This week offers a way to provide legal relief and wraparound services to justice-impacted people and their families while calling for automated expungement.”
What to know about N.E.W. in your area and beyond
Now in its second year, cities featuring participating events have nearly doubled from 16 in 2018 to 30, including major hubs such as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.
In case there is not event scheduled in your hometown, this year N.E.W. coincides with Code For America’s National Day of Civic Hacking, and Code For America’s volunteer Brigades, many of whom are working with local N.E.W. organizers to combine live events with technological solutions.
National Voter Registration Day,
N.E.W. also coincides with National Voter Registration Day, which highlights the need for voting rights restoration. The N.E.W. website provides a link to an online toolkit so communities can organize such events beyond the scope of the week.