More than 54K pot convictions to be thrown out

Marijuana. Katharine Lotze/Signal

District Attorneys Jackie Lacey of Los Angeles County and Tori Verber Salazar of San Joaquin County joined with Code for America on Monday to announce a criminal justice reform partnership to automatically clear more than 50,000 eligible cannabis convictions under Proposition 64.

The two counties are among the first in California to take part in Code for America’s pilot program that proactively identifies convictions that qualify for resentencing or dismissal under the initiative approved by voters in 2016, according to a news release issued by Lacey’s office.

In November 2016, the majority of California voters passed Proposition 64 – The Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act – which permits adults 21 years of age and older to possess and grow specified amounts of marijuana for recreational use.

“We have partnered with Code for America to take on this monumental effort in the state’s most populous county,” Lacey was quoted as saying in the news release.

“As technology advances and the criminal justice system evolves, we as prosecutors must do our part to pursue innovative justice procedures on behalf of our constituents. This collaboration will improve people’s lives by erasing the mistakes of their past and hopefully lead them on a path to a better future.

“Helping to clear that path by reducing or dismissing cannabis convictions can result in someone securing a job or benefiting from other programs that may have been unavailable to them in the past,” she said. “We are grateful to Code for America for bringing its technology to our office.”

Both district attorneys’ offices have been working with Code for America since July 2018 to develop a system that examines cannabis convictions.

There are estimated to be approximately 50,000 eligible convictions in Los Angeles County, according to Monday’s news release. There are an additional 4,000 eligible convictions in San Joaquin County.

“In the digital age, automatic record clearance is just common sense,” said Jennifer Pahlka, founder and executive director of Code for America. “Thanks to the leadership of District Attorneys Lacey and Salazar, we’ve shown how records clearance can and should be done everywhere.”

Recognizing that California’s record clearance process was not designed for the digital age, this partnership demonstrates a growing momentum for technology-assisted record clearance in California, the release said. It builds on last month’s announcement that Code for America’s Clear My Record technology helped San Francisco dismiss and seal more than 8,000 cannabis convictions.

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