Citing the need to help minorities who are disproportionately impacted by drug laws, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey dismissed nearly 66,000 marijuana convictions on Thursday, USA Today reports. Prosecutors asked a Superior Court judge to dismiss 62,000 felony cannabis convictions for cases dating back to 1961. Another 4,000 misdemeanor cases were dismissed across 10 cities in Los Angeles County. Lacey’s office said that about 32 percent of the people affected are black, 20 percent are white, 45 percent are Latinx and three percent are other or unknown.
Thursday’s announcement was made in partnership with Code for America, a nonprofit which created an algorithm to identify convictions eligible to be dismissed under Proposition 64, which voters approved in 2016. Code for America has offered its “Clear My Record” technology free to all 58 California district attorneys. Clear My Record helped reduce or dismiss more than 85,000 Proposition 64 eligible convictions across five counties. The current process for clearing records involves petitioning the court, which Lacey’s office calls “time-consuming, expensive and confusing.” Evonne Silva of Code for America said Thursday’s announcement shows “automatic record clearance is possible at scale and came help right the wrongs of the failed war on drugs.”