Citing the need to bring relief to people of color who are disproportionately impacted by drug laws, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey dismissed nearly 66,000 marijuana convictions on Thursday.
Prosecutors asked a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to dismiss 62,000 felony cannabis convictions for cases dating back to 1961, according to a news release. An additional 4,000 misdemeanor cases were dismissed across 10 cities in Los Angeles County.
“I am privileged to be part of a system dedicated to finding innovative solutions and implementing meaningful criminal justice reform that gives all people the support they need to build the life they deserve,” Lacey said in a statement.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, “Approximately 53,000 individuals will receive conviction relief through this partnership. Of those, approximately 32% are Black or African American, 20% are White, 45% are Latinx, and 3% are other or unknown.”
California legalized recreational marijuana years ago. Thursday’s announcement was made in partnership with Code for America, a nonprofit which created an algorithm to identify convictions eligible to be dismissed under Proposition 64, which voters approved in 2016.
Code for America has offered its Clear My Record technology free to all 58 state district attorneys, The Associated Press reported. The State Attorney’s office announced Clear My Record helped reduce or dismiss more than 85,000 Proposition 64 eligible convictions across five counties.
Assembly Bill 1793, which passed in 2018, charges prosecutors with reviewing convictions eligible for dismissal or reduction under Proposition 64 by July 1 of this year — the District Attorney’s office said only 3% of people eligible for conviction relief have received it before Thursday’s announcement.
The current process for clearing records involves petitioning the court, which the District Attorney’s Office calls “time-consuming, expensive and confusing.”
Evonne Silva, Code for America’s Senior Program Director of Criminal Justice, said in a statement Thursday’s announcement shows “automatic record clearance is possible at scale and came help right the wrongs of the failed war on drugs.”
“Today’s action marks the completion of our California Clear My Record pilot, through which we will have helped to dismiss and seal more than 85,000 marijuana convictions across the state,” Silva said.