Vicente Sederberg LLP Participates in National Expungement Week 2019
By Yolanda Clarke, Associate Attorney; Rachael Cotner, Licensing Specialist Assistant
Sep 27, 2019
Vicente Sederberg LLP was proud to support National Expungement Week (N.E.W.) events during September 21-28, 2019. N.E.W. is a week of events across the U.S. that offers expungement and other forms of legal relief to some of the 77 million Americans with criminal records. This event is just one component of a broader criminal justice reform push to right the wrongs of the failed War on Drugs and the largely disproportionate impact of those policies on minority communities. Even decades after individuals have served their sentences, too often are they denied opportunities to improve their circumstances by prohibitive restrictions to housing, employment, education, public assistance, and voting rights. Thankfully, public opinion is shifting and even politicians are realizing that lifelong restrictions based on often minor convictions may not be in the public interest after all.
Lending a Hand in Denver
Denver’s second National Expungement Week event was held Saturday, September 21 and VS Denver team members were there to show their support. With the help of Gov. Jared Polis and pragmatic legislators at the state level, Colorado has passed several progressive measures over the last legislative session to streamline the record sealing process. These changes were seen first-hand by volunteers Yolanda Clarke, Ben Leonard, and Rachael Cotner. In addition to nearly doubling the turnout from last year’s event, these changes meant the number of individuals who were eligible for record sealing was also greatly increased – consequential not only for that individual and their family but the greater community as a whole, as those individuals will have the ability to be more active participants in the local economy. In addition to record sealing services, the Denver event also featured a voter registration drive and information about jobs and opportunities in the cannabis industry. For those unable to have records sealed, testimonials were taken to demonstrate the reality of punitive criminal justice policies, with the hope that the record sealing process will continue to be amended to best serve all individuals in the state. VS Denver looks forward to next year’s event and assisting more individuals to regain their rights.
Supporting in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, we showed our support by sponsoring Ermont Inc's National Expungement Day event, which was held at the Sons of Italy in Quincy, Massachusetts. Under a criminal reform bill signed into law last year, people can seek to seal or expunge convictions in Massachusetts for low-level marijuana possession and other non-violent crimes that have been taken off the books. At the event, people were given the tools and resources to remove non-violent crimes from their records, in addition to attorney advice, food stamp assistance and on-site voter registration.
Last Prisoner Project Launch in Texas
Vicente Sederberg LLP also supported the launch of Last Prisoner Project (LPP) at their Austin, Texas event. LPP is an advocacy organization made up of cannabis industry leaders, executives and artists dedicated to making sure that every victimless cannabis prisoner is released. LPP is focusing their efforts on clemency and expungement, re-entry programs and advocacy. To learn more about the Project's initiatives and donate to the cause, go to lastprisonerproject.org.