Illinois Lawmakers Companion With Tech Nonprofit To Expunge Cannabis Convictions


At a news conference on Tuesday, law enforcement officials from Illinois’ Cook County announced that they would be collaborating with Code For America to initiate expungement proceedings for possession charges of up to 30 grams of cannabis.

Here’s a quote from the announcement courtesy Cook County State Lawyer Kim Foxx, which we hope is heard ‘round the globe:

“It is prosecutors who have been aspect of the war on drugs, we have been aspect of a bigger ecosystem that believed that in the interest of public security, that these have been convictions that have been essential to obtain. In the advantage of hindsight and searching at the effect of the war on drugs, it is also prosecutors who have to be at the table to make sure that we are righting the wrongs of the previous.”

Illinois legalized recreational marijuana two months ago, producing it the initially state in the US to regulate adult-use cannabis through the legislative method rather than voter referendum. The law will take impact on January 1, and officials are functioning to make confident that the legal program is in order for that date.

When he signed the bill into impact, Governor J.B. Pritzker mentioned it would automatically expunge and pardon the records of 800,000 state residents. That aspect was specifically essential as police in Illinois and specifically Chicago (which is positioned in Cook County) have come beneath fire for their demonstrably racist cannabis policing techniques.

Low level cannabis convictions can avoid people from landing employment and qualifying for public housing.

Code For America has also played a part in expediting cannabis expungements in San Francisco, whose DA announced that it would collaborate with the organization in the identification of more than 9,000 circumstances. The group has created a system that can collect circumstances relating to cannabis charges that are no longer crimes beneath current legalization laws.

The system is a huge aid to county governments that have struggled more than the job of sifting by way of criminal records. Notably, although, the Code For America system is of tiny use when it comes to charges that took location ahead of digitization. As the Chicago Tribune notes, in the 1960s, a individual identified with a single joint on their individual could get a felony and mandatory prison sentence. (In the ‘70s, that was decreased to misdemeanor charge, a year in jail, and a $1,000 fine.)

Months just after the starting of the San Francisco project, California’s Los Angeles and San Joaquin counties decided to comply with suit with Code For America, saying the collaboration had the possible to minimize or clear a lot more than 54,000 cannabis convictions. To date, 14 California counties have began functioning with Code For America’s Clear My Record project, which delivers on line sources for folks who want to get cannabis-associated offenses out of their lives.

In Cook County, expungements will not demand any operate on the aspect of the impacted people, who will get a letter saying their charges have been expunged.

The initially challenge will be obtaining the conviction information into the right format to be dealt with by the system. Soon after that, “Literally, you will be clearing out hundreds and hundreds of records per minute,” says Foxx.

Thoughts you, even “automatic” expungements are, sadly, not a speedy repair. County officials say Code For America’s operate really should be carried out by 2021.


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