Two states offer offenders a second chance, a pharmacy makes a deal to get out of opioid trouble, and Virginia employers may no longer ask applicants if they have ever had legal issues because of marijuana. It’s all in EBI’s Screening News Weekly Wrap.
Second Chance Act x 2
Two southern states are moving forward with criminal justice reform in an effort to help ex-offenders get a clean slate.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed the state’s Second Chance Act into law last week. The legislation passed unanimously in both the state House and Senate. It allows for some criminal convictions to be expunged from criminal history records.
The new law focuses on those convicted of misdemeanors or low-level, non-violent felonies. There are some hoops to jump through. First, you must finish serving your sentence and pay all fines. Then, if you go 10 years without being charged with another felony, or five years for a misdemeanor, the Second Chance Act will let you wipe the record clean. Sexual assault charges and DUIs are not eligible for expungement. If you are found not guilty or have your charges dismissed, they will now be automatically expunged.
Georgia’s Second Chance Law is similar, but the waiting periods are significantly shorter. The wait is just three years of good behavior after a misdemeanor and five for felony convictions. More violent offenders could have a shot at expungement, but if the conviction is for a sex crime, murder, or kidnapping, victims would have the chance to object.
North Carolina’s governor says his state’s legislation offers opportunity and a path forward to good jobs and a brighter future.
Opioid Deal with Mail-In Pharmacy
As opioid cases continue to move through the courts, the Attorney General in Massachusetts has reached a settlement with a mail-order pharmacy. The AG alleged the Injured Workers Pharmacy (IWP) shipped thousands of illegitimate opioids across the country for years as the national crisis grew.
According to the civil complaint, IWP dispensed large quantities of the drugs without making sure there was a “legitimate medical purpose.” Pharmacies are required to check several factors to prevent these drugs from making it onto the black market.
The AG says the opioids were also prescribed in dangerous combinations with other controlled substances and were often written by prescribers in ways that should have raised red flags an above-board pharmacist would have noticed. Topping the heap of accusations, the AG alleged that IWP even payed personal injury attorneys for patient referrals.
Between 2006 and 2012, IWP dispensed more than 34 million pills, making it the largest recipient of opioids in the state. The company has agreed to pay $11 million to settle the case.
Marijuana Ban the Box Law Now in Effect
A few weeks ago we told you about Virginia’s new law that essentially Bans the Box for marijuana convictions. It is now in effect.
As of July 1st, it is illegal for any employer or educational institution in the state to ask applicants to disclose information about previous marijuana charges. Under the new law, an arrest for possessing less than an ounce of the drug is still technically illegal, but only carries, at most, a $25 civil fine. Employers, on the other hand, could be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor if they violate the law.
But it’s not a complete free-for-all. The law does require that any violation for driving under the influence of marijuana be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles so it can be recorded on the license holder’s driving record.