This week, National Expungement Week (NEW) has returned once more, bringing free expungement and record-sealing relief services to those who have been negatively affected by the War on Drugs.
Running through September 26, this week-long campaign focuses on spreading awareness for those who could benefit from expungement services. NEW is credited as having helped nearly 300 people expunge or record-sealing their records—a feat which NEW claims is a public benefit of over $3 million. These services aren’t limited to cannabis either. NEW is open to helping many others get the expungement relief they seek as well.
It isn’t focused in just one location either. The event grows every year, thanks to advocates across the country who are volunteering to have the program available in their home areas. This year, events will be happening in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington D.C. Every city and state has its own laws regarding the process of expungement and record-sealing though, so it’s important to check NEW’s individual expungement flyers for more information.
NEW first began in 2018 through the efforts of LaTorie Marshall of We B.A.K.E.D. and Adam Vine of Cage-Free Repair. Together they organized expungement relief efforts for those affected by the War on Drugs (which is an estimated 77 million Americans who have a criminal record). Between 2018 and 2019, NEW grew from hosting 18 events to over 40 within a one-week span.
Annually, NEW features a list of demands on behalf of “activists and frontline freedom fighters from across the nation” that changes every year. This year, they feature the need for condemning officers involved in the murders of people such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, speaking out against police militarization, demanding the need for funds to be given back to schools and housing instead of law enforcement, and so much more. “While the justice system continues to profit from the incarceration of people and arrests of protestors,” NEW’s statement concludes. “These arrests exacerbate our current public health crisis by putting more people at risk of contracting COVID-19, which is already disproportionately harming communities of color. Our communities cannot continue to suffer the way they have. We demand justice! We will not rest until justice is served and all historic marginalized communities receive equitable access to all basic human rights. WE DEMAND THIS NOW!”