CLEVELAND — Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb has filed a motion to expunge the record of more than 4,000 people convicted of minor marijuana possession cases.
Bibb was joined at the Justice Center by Council President Blaine Griffin and Chief Prosecutor Aqueelah Jordan on Wednesday to officially turn in the motion with the city clerk's office.
The motion would expunge 4,077 records of marijuana convictions, dating back to 2017. The cases involved would be those involving minor misdemeanor marijuana possession cases of 20 grams or less under the city's ordinance.
“We are seeing progress in Washington on this issue but it’s slow. There are immediate steps we can take right now in Cleveland to clear the names of over 4,000 residents who deserve a fresh start,” Bibb said in a statement. “This is just one way we can make progress on criminal justice reform to balance the scales and remove barriers to employment and re-entry."
In early 2020, Cleveland City Council passed legislation to reduce the penalties for misdemeanor marijuana possession cases to no fines or prison time. The legislation also ensured those convicted would not have a criminal record and they would not need to report the charge on applications for employment or licenses.
The city says the prosecutor's office has identified 455 individuals who have been mistakenly charged since council passed the 2020 ordinance, in addition to thousands of other cases eligible for expungement since 2017.
When reached for comment by 3News, Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association President Det. Jeff Follmer said he wasn't opposed to the expungements, although he added, "At the time, offenders broke the law, and they should still pay a fine."
The motions will be considered by Presiding Judge Michelle Earley and other judges in Cleveland Municipal Court. The expungements will take effect as soon as the motions are signed by the judges.
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