District Attorney erases over 700 marijuana convictions

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District Attorney Jeff Reisig announced last week that his office has cleared 728 marijuana-related convictions as part of a criminal justice reform project between the Yolo District Attorney’s Office and Code for America.  Code for America is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2009 to narrow the gap between the public and private sectors in their effective use of technology and design.  Code for America has worked to tackle pressing local issues in innovative ways, and more recently has branched into criminal justice work.

In partnership with Code for America, Yolo County was the first in the state to use the “Clear My Record Application and Implementation Blueprint.”  By using the technology and step by step guide, the Yolo County District Attorney’s office was able to quickly identify individuals with marijuana-related convictions and petition the court to reduce, dismiss and seal marijuana convictions still remaining on an individual’s criminal history.

California voters approved Proposition 64 in 2016, which became effective on Nov. 9, 2016.  Proposition 64 legalized the responsible use of marijuana by adults 21 and over.  It also allowed for the reduction or dismissal of certain marijuana related behavior.  Sex offenders and individuals convicted of “Super Strikes” were excluded from the expungement process.

By moving to expunge all eligible marijuana-related convictions, Reisig went beyond the most basic relief provided by Proposition 64.  The innovative approach, using the technology provided by Code for America, eliminated the need for those people previously convicted of marijuana-related convictions to file a motion and have to appear in court, thereby expediting the process.  On Wednesday, Aug. 21, Yolo County Presiding Superior Court Judge Samuel McAdam signed the order submitted by the District Attorney dismissing the convictions.

As a result of the 728 convictions that were dismissed on Reisig’s motion, 261 individuals who had a felony will no longer have a felony on their record. In addition, 156 individuals who had marijuana-related convictions will no longer have any conviction on their record.

Reisig stated, “Marijuana convictions should no longer be a barrier to people’s ability to seek employment or housing or negatively impact their lives any further.  My office is dedicated to finding ways to use technology to advance smart criminal justice reform and increase efficiencies within the system.” 

Moving forward, Reisig stated that he plans to focus his marijuana-related prosecutions on individuals who damage the environment through illegal marijuana cultivation and/or manufacturing activities.  He will also pursue individuals who illegally possess weapons and/or place children at risk in connection with unlawful marijuana activity.  Additionally, when appropriate, the District Attorney’s office will pursue civil lawsuits against unlawful marijuana actors. In such cases, his office will also look for fair and meaningful ways to include settlement payments towards children advocacy groups, such as First 5 Yolo, as part of any lawsuit resolution.  Earlier this year, Reisig settled two lawsuits against unlawful marijuana growers in Yolo County that resulted in payments of $53,000 to First 5 Yolo.

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