ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The City of Rochester and community organizations used today, Cannabis Day or 4/20 to publicize a program for previously incarcerated individuals the opportunity to expunge their convictions.
Recreational use of cannabis is legal in New York State, yet many folks have been impacted by the past prohibition on cannabis, leading to convictions. Today’s clinic helped clear or seal their records so they can move forward.
Not only those with marijuana violations but residents with other convictions were also welcome to the clinic. Each person met with a lawyer and discussed their options to see whether or not they could get their record sealed or expunged.
Chaka Moxley works with Core Center for Community Alternatives. He previously got his record expunged through Clean Slate legislation after 22 years in prison. He’s been out for three years and now advocates for life after incarceration. He says events like this offer folks a second chance and potentially helps to reduce crime.
“(New York State) We spend $115,000 every year on each inmate. How about investing some of that money into giving $40 and 50,000 jobs to inmates when they come home and creating programs to heal those people from the traumas they suffered in their lives.”
Moxley adds many people coming out of prison change their mindset but feel like it’s hard to ditch a bad reputation. He says because of that they’re not offered opportunities to change.
Tanisha Yee-Singh came down to the event at Urban Euphoria even though she didn’t have a cannabis-related conviction. She wasn’t sure if the program would work for her as she had a Class D Felony. Today, she was proven wrong.
“Honestly I was skeptical, I don’t have a marijuana-related charge so are they going to be able to help me? And they still can help you. It doesn’t have to be cannabis-related, let them come help you.”
And other organizers at the event want folks to think about record expungement as more than just being able to get a job or a house. Tiffany Walters is the CEO of Cannabis Connect and she wants those who were previously convicted on cannabis-related charges to think about entrepreneurial options.
“Cannabis creates a new pathway for you and a lot of opportunity so I want you guys to continue to spark interest in this and think about your transferable skills and what you really have to add. There’s value there.”
The Judicial Process Commission, one of the event’s partners, says they’re doing this work consistently in the community. Organizers also say they hope to have more events in the future.