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Thousands Of Pot Convictions To Be Cleared Quickly As Kim Foxx Uses New Technology To End ‘Legacy Of Mass Incarceration’

"Illinois has an opportunity to address the wrongs caused by the failed war on drugs," Foxx's office said.

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DOWNTOWN — Thousands of people with pot-related convictions are expected to get those records cleared quicker than expected thanks to a new effort from the Cook County State’s Attorney Office.

State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office is partnering with Code for America, a non-profit that will help the office use Clear My Record technology to seal certain cannabis convictions throughout Cook County, according to a news release.

The records can be sealed as part of Illinois’ Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which was signed into law in June. The law will go into effect in January, at which point Cook County will be able to expunge convictions for buying or possessing 30 grams or less of pot.

Clearing the records of so many people will help “tens of thousands of individuals get a fresh start,” said Jennifer Pahlka, founder of Code for America, in the news release.

State’s attorneys’ offices can get a list of convictions that are eligible to be cleared from State Police. The offices will then review those lists and submit eligible convictions for final approval from the courts, according to Foxx’s office.

But the Clear My Record technology will allow Foxx’s staff to read conviction data in minutes, then use that data to look for eligible records to be cleared. This streamlines and quickens the expungement process, “ensuring that individuals can obtain relief as soon as possible,” according to Foxx’s office.

“By providing proactive and automatic record clearance services, Illinois has an opportunity to address the wrongs caused by the failed war on drugs, felt most acutely in communities of color, and fulfill the promise of the reforms aimed at remedying the legacy of mass incarceration in Illinois,” according to Foxx’s office.

Cook County is running a pilot of the technology — which has otherwise only been used to clear convictions in California — and will share the results around the state when the project is finished.

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