Code For America Takes Tech Project To Illinois To Help Expunge Cannabis Convictions In The State

The report reveals……..A nonprofit with the technology to analyze criminal records nearly automatically will help the county that includes Chicago clear tens of thousands of convictions for marijuana possession before the drug becomes legal in Illinois on Jan. 1.

Code for America will provide a digital system to tackle the task at no taxpayer cost and in a fraction of the time it would take bureaucrats to slog through decades of cannabis arrests and convictions, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx told The Associated Press in advance of announcing it Tuesday. California is using the organization’s “Clear My Record” program to erase tens of thousands of records in four of its counties, including Los Angeles County.

Possession of 30 grams (one ounce) or less of marijuana will be legal in Illinois starting next year. The law, which was signed in June, also recognizes that for decades people caught with small amounts of pot received stiff fines, possible jail time and criminal convictions that dogged them for life.

So about 770,000 arrests and convictions, representing about 314,000 people, must be automatically expunged. Lawmakers streamlined the process but it would take an inestimable number of staff hours to review the records by hand, Foxx said.

“It would be incredibly onerous,” Foxx said. “You’re talking upward of hundreds of thousands of records statewide, and … whether it’s people from the clerk’s office, the state’s attorney’s office, the state police, all of those who would have to touch an actual record to put in manually, this would be difficult.”

Foxx said her office is working with the State Police to determine how many conviction records the county must process. Prosecutors such as Foxx must identify eligible cases — essentially, any that didn’t involve violence — and forward them to state regulators for review and then to the governor for pardons, clearing the way for the state attorney general to seek their expungement from a judge.

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