Missouri courts ask for additional funding to handle bulk expungements
A criminal record is a burden for anyone charged and found guilty of their accused crime, even when the crime in question is a nonviolent marijuana-related misdemeanor. Criminal records prevent people from meaningful employment and competitive wages. Employers do background checks and they are more likely to reject applicants who have any marks on their records, especially when they have a large pool of competitive applicants.
Criminal records also make it hard for people to find stable living conditions. Renters are cautious about who they enter agreements with, and would much prefer tenants who have never had a problem with the law. Landlords who do accept tenants with criminal records often overcharge for the underwhelming conditions provided.
Missouri residents with nonviolent marijuana-related criminal backgrounds are ready to have their records completely expunged after Amendment 3 – which also legalized recreational marijuana use – was passed by ballot initiative on Election Day, Tuesday, November 8th.
State courts have begun the process of expunging nonviolent marijuana offenses on Dec. 8 for people on probation or parole for charges involving three or fewer pounds of cannabis. There are about 565 people in the scenario, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections, and they will have the remainder of their sentences vacated by circuit courts across the state.
Expungements are expected to take longer. The courts have petitioned for additional funding to handle the bulk expungements. The court is expecting to receive a large number of petitions for expungements in the next few months, and they are concerned with how they will allocate staff and dollars to properly identify cases that qualify for expungement.
While being relieved from incarceration, probation, or parole are major steps in the right direction, these people will continue to carry the burden of a criminal record until the details are ironed out in court. It’s not a matter of whether these men and women will have the records expunged, it’s simply a matter of when.
It’s important to note that marijuana offenses relating to driving under the influence and distributing to a minor are not eligible for expungement. Missourians found guilty of these crimes can still be charged and prosecuted to the full extent of the law, which includes incarceration.