This Technology Has Cleared 140,000 Marijuana-Related Convictions So Far

Having a criminal record stops plenty of people from getting their next job or home — even if they have a marijuana-related conviction, and even if what was once illegal in their state is now perfectly fine.

Stack of papers (Photo by Jenni C / CC BY 2.0)

Technology is available that can help automatically clear convictions of hundreds of thousands of Americans who live in “paper prisons” — which are the lingering restrictions imposed on everyday life by having a criminal record.

In this episode of the podcast, Next City executive director Lucas Grindley talks with Alia Toran-Burrell, who works for Code for America as an associate program director with the Clear My Record initiative that is freeing people from paper prisons. She notes that one in every three Americans has a criminal record.

“While one-in-three is just a wild number, we know that people of color in poor communities are over included in that number,” says Toran-Burrell. “Another, I think, wild statistic is one-in-two kids in this country have a parent with a criminal record. So when we're talking about the extent of the problem, it is just incredible. And I say ‘a problem’ because a criminal record and the impacts of the legal system on people are far reaching.” 

Also on this episode, Next City talks with journalist Cinnamon Janzer about her reporting on the impacts of having a record, and we hear from people living with the stigma about what it's like to try get stable housing and employment.

Listen to this episode below, or subscribe to Next City’s podcast on Apple and Spotify.

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