Sacramento County Joins Pot Conviction Clearance Initiative

The new partnership makes Sacramento the fourth California county to partner with Code for America. Developers estimate that this will clear roughly 5,300 eligible convictions related to marijuana.

by / April 22, 2019

Sacramento County, Calif., is partnering with the civic tech group Code for America to clear or reduce 5,303 marijuana-related convictions.

The county is the fourth in California to take part, according to an announcement Monday. This all comes after a 2016 vote to approve Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana. As a result, many minor convictions became eligible for dismissal or to be reduced to a misdemeanor.

Code for America (CfA), a national nonprofit and nonpartisan group that works to help government use technology to better serve its constituents, has begun moving through the nation’s most populous states, helping district attorneys to reduce or clear criminal records of eligible convictions.

The partnership between CfA and Sacramento County dates back to January. The specifics will see CfA’s tech helping Sacramento to proactively search its records for eligible convictions that now qualify for resentencing.

Meanwhile, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office is also acting on proposals from community groups — made in accordance with the public defender there — to dismiss qualifying marijuana convictions where: an individual has been crime-free for the past 10 years; the offense is the only conviction on an individual’s record; parole or probation was completed; or it was a misdemeanor conviction for an adult offender under the age of 21 at the time of arrest.

That’s a lot of legal specifics. The broad results, however, will see 1,919 convictions dismissed, 3,384 reduced to misdemeanors, and 603 residents of Sacramento County that now have records totally free of convictions.

CfA has now done similar work in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Joaquin counties. San Francisco saw nearly 9,000 convictions changed, while San Joaquin saw about 4,000. The real whopper here was Los Angeles, the most populous county in the nation, where CfA was able to affect about 50,000 total convictions.

This work has the potential to affect record clearance processes nationwide. In fact, officials in Cook County, Ill., have said they are interested in working with CfA on a similar effort to reduce or clear convictions there. In a statement announcing the new partnership with Sacramento, CfA officials also reiterated that their goal is to clear 250,000 eligible convictions nationwide by the end of this calendar year.

Residents of Sacramento County who are curious if their own records were affected can call the public defender’s office at 916-874-5578 or the district attorney’s office at 916-874-6218.