Over 8,000 marijuana convictions in San Francisco dismissed with help from a computer algorithm

Date: 26 Feb 19 posted by Harry

(CNN) Technology meets law and order to help dismiss thousands of marijuana-related convictions dating back to 1975 in San Francisco.

The San Francisco District Attorney's office announced on Monday that 8,132 convictions will be dismissed thanks to a computer algorithm that automatically scanned court records.

"This makes San Francisco the first county in the country to complete the automated marijuana record clearance process," said a statement from the office of San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón.

DA's office works with Code For America - a non-profit corporation that uses technology to improve government - develops computer programs to identify potential cases of dismissal, as California enacted legislation in 2016 allowing use marijuana for recreational purposes.

Since the adoption of Law No. 64 of the law, those who have not been punished in the same way in the past may request that their conviction be annulled or converted from a crime into an offense. However, individuals can file their own complaints with the court, a process that is both time consuming and costly. According to Gascón, in 2018, only 23 people in San Francisco filed petitions.

Gascón announced last year that his office would proactively investigate the business to determine eligibility and begin the process of developing algorithms in May with Code For America.

Although manual filtering of thousands of criminal records takes a long time, the development of algorithms reduces this process to a few minutes.

"By using technology, we are able to proactively bring greater equality and racial equity to the legalization of cannabis in California," Gasco said at a press conference on Monday.

"By providing similar relief in the community, I'm happy to see other counties and states doing the same, that's the right approach."

The erased archives will help people find jobs and access housing and other opportunities that may be denied because of their criminal record.

"If you are a father or mother who wants to participate in the school activities of children, they are told that you can not participate in this educational outing because you are worried about this because you sold a nickel bag in Tenderloin for 10 years . People, "said Gascon.

"This partnership also helps to solve the mistakes caused by the failure of the war on drugs, and the communities of color are the strongest," the press release added. "In San Francisco, about 33% of rejected convictions were related to African Americans and 27% involved Latinos."

These cases will now be sent to court for dissolution and seal.

Gascon decided last year to return to the crime and misdemeanor cases of 1975. The 75-year-old cases may still be dismissed by the District Attorney, but the defendants in these cases must contact the Office of the Planner. action for development for consideration.

Code For America hopes that this pilot program will be canceled by other cities and counties in order to eliminate the eligible convictions.

"The connection with the criminal justice system should not be life imprisonment, so we have worked hard to rethink the process of reviewing the cases," said Jennifer Parka, Founder and Executive Director of the US Code, in a statement. Innovation and common sense, which change the scale and speed of justice and, eventually, bring about change across the country. "

Gasco made it clear that his office could not inform everyone whose case had been rejected.

"We hope that those who understand that they could be affected by this situation will be able to call us and say," Hey, is my belief gone? "

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