After recreational marijuana was legalized in California, prosecutors expected several petitions from people looking to clear their old criminal record. However, it appears that most people didn’t even try to petition to clear their records because it was a difficult task to navigate. Now, prosecutors in the counties of Los Angeles and San Joaquin have announced plans to automatically dismiss or reduce about 54,000 marijuana related convictions. There are an estimated 50,000 convictions in L.A. County and 4,000 more in San Joaquin County that are eligible to be cleared. Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey stated the following at a downtown news conference earlier this month,
Frankly, very few people took the legal action required to clear their records. And yet, the will of the voters was clear.
Many of the cases involve people that were in possession of a small amount of marijuana. The prosecutors will work with Code for America, a nonprofit tech organization that developed a computer algorithm to quickly analyze county data to determine which cases are eligible to be cleared under Proposition 64. Prosecutors are doing this because they believe that minorities were targeted disproportionately during decades of drug enforcement. The computer algorithm is estimated to save San Joaquin County $1 million in time and resources. Prosecutors and public defenders are still trying to work out how people will be notified of the changes to their records. We will have to wait and see how many of the 54,000 convictions will be cleared.