Over 8,000 Pot Convictions in SF Go Up in Smoke

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By George Khoury, Esq. on February 28, 2019 3:10 PM

When it comes to the administration of, and access to, justice, the City of San Francisco and Code for America are leading the way, at least for those individuals convicted of marijuana possession from 1975 to present.

The city and tech NPO have teamed up to test Code for America's algorithm that promises to evaluate these marijuana convictions to check each one's eligibility for expungement due to the 2016 change in the state's marijuana laws permitting recreational use for those over the age of 21. If successful, San Francisco will become the first city in the country to complete a mass expunging like this for marijuana convictions.

8,000 and Counting

As of now, the project has boasted clearing over 8,000 marijuana convictions, and expects that number to drastically rise by the end of year to nearly a quarter million (well, at least, that's their goal). But, as the SF District Attorney stated, their office had identified a total of just over 9,000 eligible convictions. Code for America however has plans to roll out their algorithm across both the state and country, starting with 3 to 5 more counties in California.

Code for America's project or program is called "Clear My Record" and works by creating a customized program that accounts for each jurisdiction's technical requirements to access the required information to see if an individual qualifies for an expungement. With each deployment, it expects the process to get more and more streamlined.

Automated Administration

For individuals though, this process couldn't be easier because it involves no action on the formerly convicted's part. Currently, individuals seeking expungements of marijuana crimes that would no longer be crimes now, thanks to the new law, have to go through a somewhat lengthy process (particularly for non-lawyers) fraught with legalese and paperwork, not to mention the associated court filing fees and other potential costs (such as hiring an attorney). Well, unless they're in San Francisco, or one of the next counties on Code for America's expunging block.

As more and more administrative aspects of the justice system go digital, programs like Clear My Record really have an opportunity to serve the public in a cost effective, and significant, way.

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