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JUNEAU – Senator Tom Begich (D-Anchorage) introduced legislation today to make confidential the records of individuals who have been convicted of minor marijuana crimes. In 2014, Alaskans voted to legalize the cultivation, sales, and possession of marijuana for those 21 years old or older.
“These convictions have made it difficult for hundreds, if not thousands of people to obtain good jobs and housing,” said Sen. Begich. “Now that the voters legalized marijuana, it is only fair that these records be kept confidential so those convicted can move forward with their lives.”
A Legislative Research report showed that between 2007 and 2017, there were at least 700 Alaskans convicted of low level marijuana crimes. Those convictions have made obtaining housing and gainful employment more difficult, even though marijuana possession would not be a crime today. Senate Bill 184 would also prevent the State from asking if someone has been convicted of a felony on a job application for non-public safety positions.
“This type of ‘ban the box’ legislation creates a fairer employment process for returning offenders,” said Sen. Begich. “Gainful, full-time employment is among the most important factors in reducing recidivism. Creating a pathway for ex-offenders to get jobs will help bring them back into society and make it dramatically less likely they will offend again.”
Senate Bill 184 has been referred to the Judiciary and Finance committees. Similar legislation has been introduced in the House by Representative Harriet Drummond.
Source: Alaska Legislature