ATLANTA MAYOR LANCE BOTTOMS ISSUES ORDER RESTRICTING RECORDS OF MINOR OFFENCES LIKE MARIJUANA POSSESSION

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[Atlanta\Marijuana]
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms: “The fact remains that communities of color are disproportionately affected by the lingering stigma of victimless, minor offenses—even long after the accused have paid their debts...all because of an unfair justice system.”
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Today, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued an Administrative Order to establish a process to restrict the records of offenses for possession of less than once ounce of marijuana or offenses related to the repealed subsection six (6) of the City’s Disorderly Conduct Ordinance (City Code Section 106-81(6))—commonly known as “DC-(6).”

The Administrative Order directs the Chief Operating Officer to coordinate with the City Attorney, the City Solicitor and the Chief Judge of the Municipal Court of Atlanta to establish and promulgate the process by no later than February 1, 2020.

“The fact remains that communities of color are disproportionately affected by the lingering stigma of victimless, minor offenses—even long after the accused have paid their debts,” said Mayor Bottoms. “This outmoded practice deprives our communities and workforce of brilliant and promising minds, all because of an unfair justice system that can and will be course-corrected.”

In 2007, Ordinance 07-O-0489 repealed the DC-(6) subsection, which had previously made it unlawful for any person within the corporate limits of the city to:

[b]e in or about any place where gaming or the illegal sale or possession of alcoholic beverages or narcotics or dangerous drugs is practiced, allowed or tolerated, for the purpose of or intent to engage in gaming or the purchase, use, possession or consumption of such illegal drugs, narcotics or alcoholic beverages…

The Municipal Court of the City of Atlanta is granted jurisdiction to dispose of cases where a person is charged with the state crime of possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. The process established with Mayor Bottoms’ Administrative Order would restrict the records of these offenses from public view and would only be accessible to law enforcement for criminal justice purposes. Numerous studies have shown a direct correlation between the expungement of marijuana records and an increase in wages.

In keeping with Mayor Bottoms’ One Atlanta vision, the Administrative Order is the latest policy put forth by the Administration to create a more equitable Atlanta. Criminal justice reform—including the elimination of cash bond in the City of Atlanta during her first month in office—has long been a key priority for Mayor Bottoms.

Earlier this year, Mayor Bottoms signed legislation to close the Atlanta City Detention Center (ACDC) and established a Task Force to repurpose ACDC. The mission of the Task Force is to evaluate a use of the detention center that will benefit the entire community and serve as a Center for Equity.

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