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The Equality First Alliance has a primary focus of addressing the civil injustice that has resulted from the War on Drugs here in the United States. Here at Ladybud, we have previously covered many topics that examine the overlap between social justice and the War on Drugs. For example, people of color, as well as people of lower socioeconomic status, are far more likely to bear the burden of prohibition than white people or those with financial means.
Slowly ending the War on Drugs by pushing for policy reform at local, state, and federal levels is an important means by which people can address the injustices of the War on Drugs. However, simply ending incarceration and arrests for non-violent drug offenders will not undo the damage caused by decades of prohibition.
According to the Equality First Network, more than 77 million Americans have convictions on their records. A significant portion of these people have convictions related only to cannabis possession, cultivation, or trafficking. The result of that criminal record, however, can be difficulty securing housing, an inability to obtain federal student aid, loss of voting rights in some states, and difficulty developing a career or securing a job.
In order to combat the impact of convictions, the Equality First Alliance is celebrating National Expungement Week from October 20th to the 27th. There will be educational events held all over the country. Locations include:
Prince George’s County
These events will provide information to attendees about expungements and other ways to seal or alter criminal records. They will also provide immigration advice and help people register to vote. Some of these events will also have public benefits enrollment assistance, job opportunities, and even health screenings.
As more states move toward legalization and rational cannabis policy, the disproportionate burden borne by those convicted under the unjust War on Drugs becomes increasingly obvious. Those with prior convictions may want to explore whether they can attend a National Expungement Week event near them. Barring that, visiting the website for either the Equality First Alliance or National Expungement Week may help them connect with legal resources to begin the process of expunging their cannabis conviction records or sealing those criminal records.
Until such a time as the government chooses to willingly remove criminal convictions for those convicted of non-violent drug offenses, working with attorneys and activist to seek expungement is often the best way to reduce the impact of a drug-related criminal conviction and minimize the effects of decades of failed, racist policies.
For previous Ladybud articles about institutionalized racism, click here.
Photo Credit: Sharat Ganapati via Flickr under CC BY 2.0