Santa Clara County Clears Thousands Of Old Marijuana Convictions Thanks To New Software

Santa Clara County DA Jeff Rosen in court during the coronavirus. His staff created code to clear 10,000 old marijuana convictions at once
Photo credit Randy Vaquez/Bay Area News Group
By KCBS All News 106.9FM and 740AM

Santa Clara County has expunged more than 10,000 marijuana convictions thanks to coding done by employees at the District Attorney’s office.  

Judge Eric Geffon signed orders expunging the records of those with pot convictions in the county. In one case the conviction went back 50 years.

“Our legal system has finally taken that last step in ensuring that relief is going to be granted to those who are eligible for it,” deputy public defender Daniel Portman.

California decriminalized recreational marijuana use and possession in 2016 with the passage of Proposition 64. Requests to dismiss old charges were granted soon after and people quickly began to petition for their records to be expunged, but the DA’s office needed a way to speed up the process of reviewing the cases.

“The process of doing this case by case was going to take decades. Many of these people have been waiting years,” says Portman.

Now, it’s been done automatically. District Attorney Jeff Rosen said software written by employees of his office created a highway for quick expungement. 

“When I say that we expunge them, it means that instantaneously all of these convictions were removed from the local and statewide databases,” says Rosen. “We think about this as a highway that we built to help us quickly expunge marijuana convictions, but it’s a highway that we can use to expunge other kinds of convictions and provide relief for people.”

People with criminal records can experience barriers to work, housing and credit.