Days after the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office announced a program that could erase low-level marijuana convictions for thousands of people, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. moved to dismiss more than 3,000 open warrants for such cases Wednesday.
The low-level marijuana possession and public smoking cases date back to 1978, according to a news release. Vance appeared before Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Kevin McGrath to enter a motion to vacate the convictions.
“By vacating these warrants, we are preventing unnecessary future interactions with the criminal justice system, and removing all of the collateral consequences—for one’s job prospects, school attendance, housing applications and immigration status—associated with an open Criminal Court case,” Vance said in the news release.
While speaking before McGrath, according to the release, Vance said 79 percent of the cases involved people from communities of color, and 46 percent were against defendants who were 25 years old or younger at the time of their arrest.
Last week, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced his office was establishing a first-of-its-kind program to allow eligible individuals to apply for past low-level marijuana convictions to be tossed out. The office said that could erase some 20,000 convictions going back to 1990.
Of New York City’s five DAs, Vance and Gonzalez have led the way on a softer approach to enforcing marijuana laws, with both announcing this year that they would back off from prosecuting low-level possession and public smoking offenses, while their counterparts in the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island have generally said they would continue to enforce the laws on the books.