Los Angeles County prosecutors are wiping out or reducing as many as 66,000 old marijuana convictions years after California voters broadly legalized the drug.
The county is working with the Code for America nonprofit tech organization, which uses computer algorithms to find eligible cases that are otherwise hard to identify in decades-old court documents. The group has offered its Clear My Record technology free to all 58 state district attorneys.
“We believe it is the largest effort in California to wipe out old criminal convictions in a single court motion,” Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said Thursday, CBS News reported.
“The dismissal of tens of thousands of old cannabis-related convictions in Los Angeles will bring much-needed relief to communities of color that disproportionately suffered the unjust consequences of our nation’s drug laws,” she added in a statement.
Prosecutors this week asked a Superior Court judge to dismiss 62,000 felony cannabis convictions for cases that date back to 1961. The district attorney’s office also sought the dismissal of 4,000 misdemeanor cannabis possession cases.
Of those getting relief under the plan, approximately 32% are African American, 20% are white, 45% are Latino, and 3% are other or unknown, officials said.
California voters approved eliminating some pot-related crimes and wiping out past criminal convictions or reducing felonies to misdemeanors when they legalized marijuana in 2016.
With the latest action, Code for America will have helped dismiss more than 85,000 marijuana convictions in five counties including LA, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Contra Costa, officials said.
Prosecutors in Baltimore, Seattle, Chicago and other cities have said they’ll clear eligible marijuana convictions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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