Thousands of drug convictions to be reduced as part of criminal justice reform effort

Local (Utah/State News)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – In an unprecedented move in the field of criminal justice, District Attorney Sim Gill announced Tuesday that more than 12,000 people are now eligible to have their drug convictions reduced and possibly expunged. 

The District Attorney’s office, with the help of local defenders and law students from the University of Utah, combed through more than 100,000 drug-related convictions in the past 20 years to find those eligible to have their wrap sheet reduced.

They ended up with a list of 12,334 people; about half are eligible for a single and half for a two-step reduction in their prior drug convictions. 

Gill said Tuesday, “One of the faults of our criminal justice system has been the criminalization of what are otherwise public health issues: mental illness, substance abuse disorder.”

This massive motion does need to be signed by a judge, and it would only reduce the convictions of those with drug possessions charges. It does not apply to those convicted of any other felonies, person offenses, weapon offenses, sexual battery, lewdness, DUI, communications device tampering, or domestic violence offenses. These people also must have been clean for five to seven years. 

The overall goal here is to help more people qualify for expungement which opens doors to housing, jobs, and education. 

Gill explained, “If your conviction continues to hang about your neck like a millstone or scarlet letter for the next 20, 30 years, that not only impacts you but your family, the loss of economic growth for your children, and that’s how we create these cycles of generational poverty and lack of economic opportunity.”

To find out if your name or the name of a loved one is one this list, click here. The list only goes back to 1997, when records were digitized. If you think you might qualify because of a conviction before 1997, contact the DA’s office here

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