DA George Gascón announced this step following the legalization of marijuana in California two years ago.
“It’s incumbent that we, as law enforcement leaders, continue to evolve how we advance fairness and public safety in our respective communities,” Gascón said.
San Francisco is the first jurisdiction in the country to take this step to clear old marijuana convictions. This step has prompted other district attorneys across the state and country to take similar action, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Gascón partnered with Code for America a year ago to identify the exact number of cases that are eligible to be dismissed. Using its “Clear My Record” technology, a computer based algorithm, Code for America identified the 9,362 cases that are eligible under proposition 64.
“Contact with the criminal justice system should not be a life sentence, so we’ve been working to reimagine the record-clearance process,” said Jennifer Pahlka, Code for America’s founder and executive director.
“This new approach, which is both innovative and common sense, changes the scale and speed of justice.” Pahlka added.
Gascón said, “What we have shown with marijuana is that this can be done en masse.
“You can just go through the criminal records of thousands of people and provide the relief that they qualify for without having to have a lot of human resources invested in it.”
Under Proposition 47, which reduced many theft and drug-related felony offenses to misdemeanors, there are thousands of more cases that are eligible for reclassification or expungement. Still, few people come forward to have their cases changed.
“What we have shown with marijuana is that is can be done en masse,” Gascón said.
“You can go through the criminal records of thousands of people and provide the relief that they qualify for.”