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Criminal Justice Reform

Among the most challenging issues in our urban areas is meaningful criminal justice reform, which balances our safety with the need for fairness in the process.  To address several of these issues, and at the express request of the cities I represent, I introduced several bills this session to address needed reform.  Among these efforts, I introduced bills that would make it easier for innocent people to have their arrest records expunged and to make it possible for juvenile offenders who are now on the right track in life to get prior non-violent misdemeanor convictions off their record.  We cannot afford to create roadblocks for truly reformed young people who get their lives back on track after learning from their mistakes the hard way. While I was able to gain bipartisan co-sponsorship for these bills, they were summarily killed without a recorded vote by the Courts of Justice Committee.  With the encouragement and support of so many in our communities, I will continue toward these common sense reforms in the 2017 session.

I also introduced a bill, HB1074, to decriminalize the simple possession of marijuana for personal use by adults, and to eliminate jail time for those who possess small amounts of marijuana in their homes for personal use. Currently, millions of dollars of your money is wasted every year to incarcerate otherwise law abiding and productive adults who use marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.  Many more resources are wasted when these same adults lose their jobs, their livelihoods, and face other problems because of minor, non-violent drug records, for offenses which are otherwise fully legal in the District of Columbia and a growing number of other states.  Under my legislation, as an alternative to conviction and jail and a lifelong criminal record, adults committing no other drug offense than simple possession would receive a civil fine if apprehended. This bill was killed without a recorded vote by the criminal law subcommittee. 

Paid for and authorized by Steve Heretick for Delegate
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