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Mayor Woodfin Announces Plan to Pardon Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession

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Mayor Randall Woodfin alongside Sen. Linda Coleman- Madison, Councilor Crystal Smitherman, Councilor John Hilliard and Keri Pruitt, executive director of the Dannon Project, announced today the Pardons for Progress initiative. (Erica Wright Photos, The Birmingham Times)
birminghamal.gov 

 Mayor Randall L. Woodfin on Monday announced an initiative that will allow individuals previously convicted of unlawful possession of marijuana to apply for a pardon.  

The Pardons for Progress initiative is designed to remove barriers to employment for individuals who have been convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession.

“It is my firm belief that many men and women who have been convicted, deserve a second chance in order to secure a job that may be blocked due to a one-time possession conviction,” Woodfin said. “In the spirit of reconciliation, the Pardons for Progress initiative will establish a process for individuals convicted of one marijuana possession charge to receive a pardon if the individual meets certain requirements.”

Any person previously convicted in the City of Birmingham Municipal Court of Unlawful Possession of Marijuana, Second Degree, (Class A misdemeanor) can apply for a pardon and applies to cases from Birmingham Municipal Court only.

A marijuana possession conviction can appear on an individual’s background check when seeking employment. In some cases, such a conviction eliminates the opportunity for employment.

Pardons for Progress is an initiative to provide a pardon for an individual who has a case closed by the Birmingham Municipal Court after the individual has completed all of the requirements due to their conviction.

The pardon of a marijuana conviction removes a barrier to employment that may exist due to that conviction.

The initiative provides a multi-step application process.

Applicants may go to www.birminghamal.gov/pardons to review and print a one-page application for a pardon. In addition, a copy of a government-issued photo ID (driver’s license or non-driver’s license) must be included.

An individual may submit the completed application (including the copy of the photo ID) by mailing the application packet to:

Pardons for Progress

Office of the Mayor
710 20thStreet North
Birmingham, AL. 35203

Upon receiving the application packet, a background check will be conducted through the Birmingham Municipal Court. Once the background check is completed, the application will be submitted to the Mayor’s Office, where a five-member Pardons Advisory Council will review the application.

The advisory council will submit a recommendation to the mayor.

If the application is approved by the mayor, a notification of approval will be sent to the Office of the City Attorney.

The approval list of pardons will be forwarded to the president of the Birmingham City Council for transparency, pursuant with Alabama law.

The Office of the Mayor will either issue a Certificate of Pardon to the individual or notify the individual that the application has been denied. 

The process of evaluating an application will take a minimum of six weeks.

Pardons for Progress only addresses a prior conviction of Unlawful Possession of Marijuana, Second Degree (Class A misdemeanor). If there is a conviction of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (Class A misdemeanor) connected to the marijuana possession conviction, it will also be considered. Through the initiative, only one pardon may be provided for an individual. Multiple marijuana convictions by the same individual will not be considered.

In addition, a pardon in a City of Birmingham case does not change the status of convictions in federal or state courts, nor does it change the status in another municipality’s jurisdiction.

Information and the application for Pardons for Progress can be found at www.birminghamal.gov/pardons.

Section 12-14-15, Code of Alabama, 1975

The mayor may remit fines and such costs as are payable to the municipality and commute  sentences imposed by a municipal court or the court to which an appeal was taken for violations of municipal ordinances and may grant pardons, after conviction, for violation of such ordinances, and he shall report his action to the council or other governing body at the first regular meeting thereof in the succeeding month with his reasons therefor in writing.

FAQs 

What is the purpose of Pardons for Progress? 

Pardons for Progress will allow individuals previously convicted in the City of Birmingham Municipal Court of Unlawful Possession of Marijuana, 2nd Degree, (Class A misdemeanor) to apply for a pardon. 

The Mayor’s Office has created the initiative to provide an opportunity for individuals to apply for relief from the marijuana conviction to remove a potential barrier for employment. 

This applies to cases from the Birmingham Municipal Court only. 

Will pardons be on open or closed cases and will the records be sealed? 

Pardons for Progress is for closed cases only. Open cases must be resolved in court and will not be considered under Pardons for Progress. 

How many years back does a pardon go? 

The Mayor’s Office will accept applications for request for a pardon for a marijuana conviction in the Birmingham Municipal Court during the past 20 years. 

What convictions will be included in the pardon? 

Pardons for Progress only addresses a prior conviction of Unlawful Possession of Marijuana, 2nd Degree (Class A misdemeanor). If there is a conviction of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (Class A misdemeanor) connected to the marijuana possession conviction, it will also be considered. 

How many pardons can one person receive? 

If an application is approved, Pardons for Progress will provide only one pardon per individual. Multiple marijuana possession convictions by one individual will not be considered. 

What is the process after I apply for a pardon? 

There are several steps to receive a pardon. 

First, an application must be completed. 

You may mail your completed application to: 

Pardons for Progress 

Office of the Mayor 710 20th Street North Birmingham, AL. 35203 

A background check will then be conducted. 

Upon completion of the background check, the application will be submitted to the Mayor’s Office, where a five-member Pardons Advisory Council will review the application packet. 

The advisory council will submit a recommendation to the mayor. 

If the application is approved, a notification of approval will be sent to the Office of the City Attorney. 

The approval list of pardons will be forwarded to the president of the Birmingham City Council for transparency, pursuant with Alabama law. 

The Office of the Mayor will either issue a Certificate of Pardon to the individual or notify the individual that the application has been denied. 

What is being sought out on background checks? 

Prior convictions. 

How long does the pardon process take? 

The process of evaluating a pardon application can take a minimum of six weeks. 

Will a pardon include a refund of previous fines or court costs? 

No. An approved applicant will only receive a pardon. There will be no refund of fines or court costs from the prior conviction. 

Does a pardon restore a suspended driver’s license? 

No. If a person receives a pardon, it only addresses a conviction in the City of Birmingham Municipal Court. 

In addition, a pardon in a City of Birmingham case does not change the status of convictions in federal or state courts, nor does it change the status in another municipality’s jurisdiction.