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Criminal Justice

LA District Attorney Gascón To Drop About 60,000 Cannabis Convictions

Wearing a blue suit and tie, George Gascón speaks to reporters when he first announced he was running for District Attorney. Reporters stand behind Gascón, holding cameras and writing in notepads. LA's Twin Towers Correctional Facility is in the background.
DA George Gascón
(Frank Stoltze
/
LAist)
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L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón said Monday that his office will dismiss nearly 60,000 old marijuana convictions.

“Dismissing these convictions means the possibility of a better future to thousands of disenfranchised people who are receiving this long-needed relief,” Gascón said in a statement.

Felicia Carbajal, executive director of The Social Impact Center, said this round of expungements should be the first step of many to come.

Carbajal's organization works on legal relief for people who have drug convictions. They've found that many people are still dealing with a marijuana conviction years after cannabis legalization and a state law requiring local district attorneys to review marijuana-related convictions.

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“You see a billion dollar industry booming — and taxes flowing — but you don’t see relief happening nearly as fast as I believe the voters thought would happen,” Carbajal said.

Jackie Lacey Dismissed Thousands Of Cases As Well

Last year, former D.A. Jackie Lacey dismissed roughly 66,000 marijuana-related convictions, but her office was only looking at cases covered in state Department of Justice data. Gascón’s office went further by looking at L.A. County court records and found around “58,000 felony and misdemeanor cases dating back more than three decades that are eligible for dismissal,” according to his statement.

There are many factors that contribute to cases going unnoticed, including outdated record-keeping for some older cases, said Carbajal.

Since taking office, Gascón has launched a series of reforms he said are designed to combat mass incarceration and systemic racism in the criminal justice system, including reviewing past sentences to try to undo those determined to be overly long.

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Carbajal said they want to be happy about the new cannabis conviction dismissals, “but we also recognize the damages that have been done by institutions” that contributed to the war on drugs and mass incarceration.

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