By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor
Los Angeles County is planning to throw out over 60,000 additional marijuana convictions that date back 30 years. The action is connected to California’s legalization efforts.
Marijuana arrests have been a large driver of over incarceration since the “war on drugs” began during the Nixon presidency. It was greatly executed during the presidency of Ronald Reagan.
The U.S. has led the world in incarceration for decades. The U.S. continues to also have a larger number of prisoners than any other nation in the world with roughly 2.12 million people incarcerated in the U.S. in 2020. China is second with 1.71 million people incarcerated in 2020.
The action brings the total number of felony and misdemeanor marijuana convictions identified for dismissal in the county since last year to approximately 124,000. In 2020, Los Angeles County, voided and dismissed 66,000 cannabis convicts.
The latest cases were identified through a follow-up examination of county court records. The previous group of cases identified for dismissal — nearly 66,000 in February 2020 — covered only an examination of state Department of Justice data, Gascón’s office said.
“Dismissing these convictions means the possibility of a better future to thousands of disenfranchised people who are receiving this long-needed relief,” said District Attorney Gascón in a September 27 statement.
“It clears the path for them to find jobs, housing and other services that previously were denied to them because of unjust cannabis laws,” Gascón added.
A drug felony is one of the biggest barriers for employment, even for small trivial amounts that do not involve sales to children or being designated as a ‘kingpin.’
“The dismissal of 60,000 marijuana-related cases by DA Gascón is a pivotal step in reforming our criminal justice system. This sends the right signal to the community that the nation was wrong in its ‘war on marijuana’ and that criminal convictions for marijuana offenses have a disproportionately negative impact on communities of color. We join DA Gascón in removing roadblocks to employment, housing and education through the dismissal and sealing of these convictions,” Alternate Public Defender Erika Anzoategui said.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is a political analyst who appears regularly on #RolandMartinUnfiltered. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke