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Over 50,000 Californians will have Code for America to thank for clearing their criminal records. In the absence of personal action in the wake of the Golden State's marijuana legalization, Los Angeles and San Joaquin counties are using the nonprofit tech organization's algorithm to identify old pot convictions that are eligible to be cleared under new weed laws.
So, what does that mean for your criminal record?
"Frankly, very few people took the legal action required to clear their records," according to L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey. So the counties (and the code) did it for them. Code for America's algorithm identified an estimated 50,000 convictions in L.A. County and 4,000 more in San Joaquin County involving a small amount of marijuana possession that would be legal now. And clearing those convictions is essential for a criminal justice system struggling with disparate impacts on minorities.
As the Los Angeles Times points out:
Prosecutors said decades of drug enforcement disproportionately targeted minorities. Studies have shown that people of color are more likely to be arrested and punished in connection with marijuana offenses, even though whites, blacks and Latinos use and sell marijuana at similar rates. The result, critics say, is a cycle of poverty and incarceration that has kept many minorities from getting jobs, going to school or finding housing.
San Francisco recently used Code for America's AI to ID over 9,000 marijuana-convictions that could be reduced or dismissed completely. And the company believes it can find and clear 250,000 convictions by the end of this year. It may need to -- a new state law requires officials to compile a list of all Californians eligible to have crimes expunged under the recent marijuana provisions by July 1, with the goal of having all their charges reduced or cleared by 2020.
If you're wondering how to get your weed conviction wiped out, or how to expunge your criminal record generally, contact a local criminal defense attorney for help.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.