District Attorney Jackie Lacey last month asked a court to dismiss nearly 66,000 cannabis convictions as part of a cutting-edge collaboration with Code for America.
“The dismissal of tens of thousands of old cannabis-related convictions in Los Angeles County will bring much-needed relief to communities of color that disproportionately suffered the unjust consequences of our nation’s drug laws,” District Attorney Lacey said. “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.”
The dismissals were spurred by voter-approved Proposition 64, which made many past marijuana convictions eligible for removal.
Under Proposition 64, individuals convicted for the cultivation of marijuana, possession for sale of marijuana and sales and/or transport of marijuana, all felonies, are eligible for resentencing. The law also includes dismissing possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor.
Rather than just reduce the convictions, as required by law, District Attorney Lacey went one step further: She asked the court to dismiss all eligible cannabis-related convictions.
In addition, District Attorney Lacey expanded the dismissal criteria in Los Angeles County to include people who are 50 years or older, haven’t had a felony conviction in the past 10 years or have successfully completed probation for cannabis convictions.
Code for America created a custom algorithm for these parameters. This alleviated the need for District Attorney staff to go through state criminal records one by one to evaluate eligibility, saving time and significant resources.
Office staff needed to analyze the results to ensure accuracy. Also, because of data privacy protections, protocols had to be created on what information could be shared.