Massachusetts: Expungement and Criminal Justice Reform Heads to The House

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Passed by the Massachusetts Senate in late October, a bill that would allow individuals convicted of marijuana possession to expunge their criminal records will be debated by the full House Monday.

The bill named An Act Relative to Criminal Justice Reformofficially known as Senate Bill S.2200 – passed the Senate by a vote of 27 Yeas and 10 Nays on Oct. 27.

Intended to overhaul the state’s criminal justice system, S.B. 2200 would establish new sentencing guidelines for those under “the age of criminal majority,” 19-years-old and younger, allowing for prior marijuana offenses to be expunged. Currently, the state only allows criminal records to be sealed by mail or by a judge.

A hard-hitting bill for habitual drunk drivers and synthetic opioid dealers, the omnibus bill (read the summary) was praised via Twitter by the House Ways and Means Chairman Jeffrey Sánchez. While this legislation implements important reforms for Massachusetts criminal justice system, it includes enhanced punishments for repeat offenders who drive under the influence.

The 174-page Senate bill would establish a Juvenile Justice Policy, address age restrictions for diversion programs, and mandate pre-arraignment diversion programs for “active armed service members, veterans, and individuals with substance abuse disorders and mental illness.”

If passed in its current form, S.B. 2200 would establish a process for expunging certain criminal records, according to the bill’s text.

“A charge that is expunged shall not disqualify a person in any examination, appointment or application for public employment in the service of the commonwealth or any other political subdivision thereof, nor shall such charges or convictions be used against a person in court proceedings or hearings before a court, board or commission to which the person is a party.”

Allowing for greater parity when applying for employment, housing, or any occupational licensing, the proposed reforms constitute a “comprehensive, workable approach” according to House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

No longer tethered to their youthful indiscretions, once an individual’s records have been expunged by the court they will be able to answer questions of past criminality on future applications with a simple and concise “no record.”  

Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett

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Born in Long Beach, raised on the central coast: I surf, dab, burn, and blog – though not necessarily in that order. I'm a husband, a father and a lifelong consumer of connoisseur grade weed. I don't drink alcohol or consume any other "drugs." I consider myself to be living proof that weed is not a gateway drug. If it were, I'd be in some serious trouble. Instead, as a 50-year-old ex-realtor that has been smoking weed for nearly 80% of my life (just did the math) ... I can only say, marijuana is safer than prescription pills or alcohol could ever hope to be for calming what stirs the savage beast.

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