Los Angeles clears 66,000 marijuana convictions with automated tool

With the help of the nonprofit group Code for America, those with marijuana-related convictions in Los Angeles County will see their records cleaned.
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(Connor Jalbert / Unsplash)

Nearly 66,000 residents across Los Angeles County with past marijuana-related convictions will have their records cleared through Code For America’s Clear My Record tool, according to an announcement from the nonprofit and Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey on Thursday.

The announcement marks the end of Code for America’s pilot to reduce convictions under Proposition 64, California’s 2016 law that decriminalized personal possession and use of marijuana. More than 85,000 convictions in five counties across the state — San Francisco, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Contra Costa and Los Angeles — will be expunged as a result.

“This is a clear demonstration that automatic record clearance is possible at scale and can help to right the wrongs of the failed war on drugs. Looking forward, Code for America stands at the ready to help all California counties provide this much needed relief in advance of the July 1, 2020 deadline,” said Evonne Silva, Code for America’s senior program director of criminal justice, in a press release.

In September, Code for America launched a free and open-source version of its Clear My Record tool to all of California’s 58 district attorneys, who are racing to meet a July 1, 2020 deadline of reviewing whether convictions are eligible to be expunged or reduced under California’s Proposition 64. The California Department of Justice estimates that 220,000 convictions are eligible for relief statewide.


The technology, which is capable of analyzing the eligibility of 10,000 records in one minute, analyzes criminal history data sets in bulk, fed to counties by the California Department of Justice. Once the software determines who is eligible for having their convictions dismissed, it provides a report that summarizes the data in aggregate. In Los Angeles County, 53,000 people will receive relief through the pilot, of which 45 percent are Hispanic, 32 percent are black and 20 percent are white.

The technology has also been used in Illinois, which legalized recreational marijuana for people over 21 on Jan. 1, 2020. Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx, who oversees the second-largest prosecutor’s office in the country, said that Code for America has already helped her office prepare its first batch of conviction vacations.

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