Friday, October 14, 2022

Gov. Cooper Could Do Great Good With His Pardon Power


Gov. Roy Cooper

Joe Biden issued his pardon for just some 6,500 people convicted of Federal marijuana possession and suggested that state governors ought to do the same for people convicted on state charges. What would that mean for North Carolina?

In North Carolina in 2019, there were 31,287 charges of possession of up to half an ounce of marijuana, the lowest-level misdemeanor in the state that could result in a fine of up to $200 but no jail time. Of those, 31,000 charges, 8,520 resulted in convictions. More than 60% of those convicted of the crime were not white.

That same year, there were 3,422 charges for possession of more than a half-ounce but less than 1.5 ounces of of marijuana, punishable by up to 45 days imprisonment and a $200 fine. Of those, 1,909 cases resulted in convictions; 70% of those convicted were not white.

Almost 2,500 people were charged in 2019 with possession of more than 1.5 ounces but less than 10 pounds of marijuana, a class I felony, punishable by up to eight months in prison and a $1,000 fine. Of the 2,457 charges, 338 resulted in a conviction, two-thirds of whom were not white.

Self-justifying pharisees might observe those numbers and say, "Well, they're mainly Black and brown people because they're the ones doing the dope," which ain't true, no way, no how. They're just easier to spot and profile.

As of last week, Gov. Cooper is looking at it, or rather he's tasked his lawyers to tell him what and how he could take up the Biden pardon as a standard for NC. From what I read, Cooper has pretty unlimited discretion (though there appears to be an application process):

“The Governor may grant reprieves, commutations, and pardons, after conviction, for all offenses (except in cases of impeachment), upon such conditions as he may think proper, subject to regulations prescribed by law relative to the manner of applying for pardons."

We're depending on you, Guv, to help. 

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