California And Code for America Work to Expunge Thousands of Weed Convictions

San Francisco is using an algorithm to expunge 9,000 weed convictions.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said his office would expunge more than 9,000 felony and misdemeanor cannabis convictions dating back to 1975.

“It was the morally right thing to do,” he stated to the Los Angeles Times. “If you have a felony conviction, you are automatically excluded in so many ways from participating in your community.”

Several cities in California are working to expunge records, but the process is tedious.

“You have to hire an attorney. You have to petition the court. You have to come for a hearing,” Gascón explained. “It’s a very expensive and very cumbersome process.”

San Francisco sped up the process by partnering with Code For America, a nonprofit that helps governments use technology to streamline their work. They do this by identifying cases using an algorithm, sending them to court for processing, and automatically expunging eligible cases.

Code for America said it hopes to clear 250,000 convictions throughout California by the end of 2019. However, the program also has its critics.

“To simply embark on an across-the-board expungement of 9,300 without looking at any of the surrounding factors of the surrounding factors on any of those cases strikes us as cavalier irresponsibility,” the California Narcotic Officers Association’s John Lovell stated to the LA Times.”