Brooklyn prosecutors move to wipe away more than 1,400 low-level marijuana arrests warrants and conv
Brooklyn’s top prosecutor moved to erase minor marijuana convictions and vacate hundreds of outstanding warrants for low-level pot offenses.
Eric Gonzalez appeared in Brooklyn Criminal Court and consented to motions requesting the move from the Legal Aid Society and Brooklyn Defenders before Judge Michael Yavinsky.
In all, 1,400 marijuana warrants and more than two dozen convictions were wiped out — the first time in state history that criminal convictions for low-level marijuana-related offenses have been expunged.
“Quite frankly I do not believe these cases keep us safer,” Gonzalez told reporters. “They create a line of mistrust in our justice system and we all here know that there is a tremendous racial disparity in respect to how these cases have been enforced in the past.”
Brooklyn prosecutors had already cut back sharply on prosecuting low-level pot cases that don’t involve another crime. And the majority of the cases date from the period of large numbers of stop and frisks — then-Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly’s signature program.
“The majority of these cases come from a period in time when we were targeting black and Latino communities,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez believes that clearing these warrants will “promote public safety.”
“It will restore trust in the justice system and aid individuals looking for jobs and careers who have been hindered by these outstanding warrants,” he said.
The Brooklyn DA’s office plans to go further and look at another 20,000 convictions in the borough.
“The facts are simple: People smoke marijuana no matter what race or economic class you’re in, but the enforcement has been done in a very targeting, racial way,” Gonzalez said. “Brooklyn is moving in the right direction in public safety ... and this goes a long way in restoring trust in our justice system.”