New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy conditionally vetoed a bill Aug. 23 that would have overhauled the state’s expungement system and allowed some individuals with cannabis convictions to have their records immediately cleared.
Murphy has instead offered his own recommendations on how to improve the state’s current expungement process, which has become outdated and tedious. Murphy’s vision includes the creation of a task force that would recommend how the state could implement a more technologically advanced, automatic expungement process for individuals who have not been convicted of any crimes for 10 years, NJ.com reported. Murphy’s conditional veto also calls for an electronic filing system to streamline the expungement process, the sealing of records related to the possession of small amounts of cannabis and paraphernalia and $15 million for the labor force required to process expungement petitions before the automated system is up and running, according to NJ.com.
State Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D-Hudson), who sponsored the original expungement bill, was disappointed with the veto, saying that Murphy’s version of the legislation would unfairly exclude some from participating in the process by capping the number of qualifying arrests, NJ.com reported.
The New Jersey Senate and Assembly passed Cunningham’s bill in June. The bill would have immediately expunged some cannabis convictions, and those guilty of non-cannabis-related offenses would have had their wait times reduced, according to NJ.com. Murphy has promised to expunge past cannabis convictions as part of his adult-use legalization efforts, but expungement legislation stalled in the legislature earlier this year. Now, both houses of the legislature would have to pass an amended version of the legislation that incorporates Murphy’s suggestions in order to have the bill signed into law.