By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa District Attorney
Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton and Code for America today announced that 3,264 marijuana convictions eligible for relief under Proposition 64 will be dismissed and sealed as part of their cutting-edge partnership.
“I am grateful the partnership with Code for America has given us the ability to deliver tangible results for members of our community by dismissing old marijuana convictions allowed under the law. Far too often old criminal convictions for minor drug offenses can leave a lasting mark on an individual’s life. The removal of these convictions effectively reduces barriers to licensing, education, housing and employment. It is imperative that we continue to be innovative in our approach to reforming and strengthening the criminal justice system,” said Diana Becton, District Attorney for Contra Costa County.
“At Code for America, we believe government can work dramatically better than it does today; the criminal justice system is one of the areas in which we are most failing the American people. We must make sure that California lives up to the obligation of Proposition 64 and now AB 1793,” said Jennifer Pahlka, Founder and Executive Director, Code for America. “I’d like to thank Contra Costa District Attorney Becton for her leadership on this issue. Through our partnership, we will remove barriers to employment, housing, health and education for thousands of Californians. By reimagining existing government systems through technology and user-centered design, we can rethink incarceration, reduce recidivism and restore opportunity.”
The Contra Costa District Attorney’s office used Code for America’s Clear My Record technology, which reads bulk criminal history data from the California Department of Justice, and securely and accurately analyzes eligibility for record remediation under state law. This technology can analyze eligibility for thousands of convictions in just a few minutes, alleviating the need for DA staff to go through state criminal records one by one to evaluate eligibility, a time and labor-intensive process.
This partnership helps address wrongs caused by the failed war on drugs, felt most strongly by communities of color. Approximately 2,400 individuals will receive conviction relief through this partnership. Of those, approximately 36% are Black or African American, 45% are White, 15% are Latinx, 2% are Asian/Pacific Islander, and 2% are other or unknown.
Contra Costa is the fifth California District Attorney’s Office to announce a pilot partnership with Code for America and use Clear My Record Technology to clear marijuana-related convictions eligible under Proposition 64. The other counties include San Francisco, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Los Angeles. In total, these five pilots will help reduce or dismiss approximately 75,000 Proposition 64 eligible convictions.
Earlier this year, Code for America also launched its new Clear My Record Application and Implementation Blueprint, available at no cost and open source to all California counties. These resources allow all District Attorneys’ offices to follow the lead of DA Becton and expedite and streamline review of Prop 64 convictions.
Record Clearance for the Digital Age
Record clearance was not built for the digital age. Previously, each person seeking relief had to petition the court on their own to clear their records, but this is a time-consuming, expensive, and confusing process. Because of these barriers, the vast majority of those eligible for relief have not received it.
With the aid of Code for America’s Clear My Record technology, a DA’s office can automatically and securely evaluate eligibility for record clearance for thousands of convictions in just a few minutes.
This requires no action on the part of the individual, and minimal staff time and resources from the DA’s office — two obstacles for record clearance. Streamlining conviction data processing will also make it easier for courts to update records, ensuring that individuals can obtain relief as soon as possible.
These partnerships set the standard for the statewide implementation of Assembly Bill 1793, which tasks prosecutors with affirmatively reviewing convictions eligible for dismissal or reduction under Proposition 64. This novel approach also creates a blueprint for the future of record clearance for remedies beyond Proposition 64 — the development of policy and technology that expands, streamlines and automates the record clearance process at scale.
Code for America has been making it easier for people to remove eligible convictions from their records through Clear my Record technology since 2016.
About Code for America
Code for America believes government must work for the people, and by the people, in the digital age, starting with the people who need it most. We build digital services that enhance government capabilities, and we help others do the same across all levels of government. We organize thousands of volunteers across nearly 80 chapters nationwide who improve government in their local communities. Our goal: a 21st century government that effectively and equitably serves all Americans. Learn more at codeforamerica.org.