San Francisco has cleared more than 8,000 marijuana convictions with the help of Code of America.
But the work's not over yet; Code for America plans to help prosecutors across the country 250,000 convictions by the end of the year. So those who've already seen their convictions wiped by the San Francisco District Attorney's office have one more logistical step in the process.
"I do not see it as a political thing, but frankly I see it as a matter of dignity," San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón explains. "I think this is about humanity, this is about dignity, it's restoring people to a place where they can be players and partakers in our community."
California's Proposition 64 – a law passed in 2016 that makes it possible for people to marijuana convalescents remove them from their records. But the process is filled with cumbersome paperwork and long wait times. Code for America, a nonprofit that seeks to use technology to improve government. The organization developed Clear My Record, a program that quickly and automatically reviews conviction data in order to determine which authorities are eligible for dismissal or re-sentencing.
For Gascón – who says he began his job as San Francisco's district attorney was reforming the criminal justice system and reducing incarceration – this project is a highlight of his work.
He points to the consequences of having a conviction on your record. There are many types of people who can not afford to live there if you are a parent or student, you may not be able to participate in some of the school activities for your children because you are a convicted individual on and on, "he explains.
The Individual with the Conviction Does not Need Anything, and the Code for America's Process requires minimal resources from district attorney's offices. This marks a shift from San Francisco's previous petition-based, multi-step system, which was complicated, expensive, and time-consuming.
Gascón intends to retroactively apply Prop 64 to misdemeanor and felony marijuana convictions from 1975 onwards and subsequently clear thousands of marijuana convictions. For this round of 8,132 reviewed convictions, the next step is sending them through the court system to finalize the process. The court's work will be minimal, Gascón says. Prior to joining with Code for America, San Francisco had already expunged 1,230 marijuana-related convictions.
"Because we're doing all the work on the front-end and there's no litigation involved [administrative] process of finalizing the expungement or the reduction sentence, "he explains.
Aside from San Francisco, Code for America plans to partner with four other counties in California. The organization expects to announce their new partners in the coming weeks. After these projects are completed, Code for America wants to use the lessons learned in all five counties to create a blueprint.
"Jennifer Pahlka, Founder and Executive Director of Code for America," in a statement, said: "Contact with the criminal justice system should not be a life sentence, so we've been working to reimagine the record clearance process."
Looking to the future, Gascón wants to see this process applied elsewhere.
"This new approach, which is both innovative and common sense, changes the scale and speed of justice and has the potential to ignite change across the country." 19659002] "I want to continue to evangelize, if you will, to get the others around the country and the state to do the same things and push the envelope to avoid the impact of criminal convictions when we can," he says. 19659016] Uploads% 252fvideo uploaders% 252fdistribution thumb% 252fimage% 252f85972% 252fc5230dd0 2fda 4674 bc69 9f2b54f7d244.png?% 252foriginal.png? Signature = dav9jiwidgniri1w8sd 3y2ohx8 = & source = https% 3a% 2f% 2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws ” src=”https://mondrian.mashable.com/uploads%252Fvideo_uploaders%252Fdistribution_thumb%252Fimage%252F85972%252Fc5230dd0-2fda-4674-bc69-9f2b54f7d244.png%252Foriginal.png?signature=dav9jiwiDGnIri1W8SD_3y2OHX8=&source=https%3A%2F%2Fblueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com” data-fragment=”m!ea62″ data-image=”https://mondrian.mashable.com/uploads%252Fvideo_uploaders%252Fdistribution_thumb%252Fimage%252F85972%252Fc5230dd0-2fda-4674-bc69-9f2b54f7d244.png%252Foriginal.png?signature=dav9jiwiDGnIri1W8SD_3y2OHX8=&source=https%3A%2F%2Fblueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com” data-micro=”1″/>