An Illinois state’s attorney is moving forward with her plan to expunge misdemeanor marijuana convictions in her Chicago district, but Kim Foxx and her office is still working on how exactly to make that happen.
The Cook County politician told the Chicago Sun-Times Monday that the office won’t overturn the convictions all at once. But she said the plan is to begin the process in the months ahead.
To make it happen, Foxx, who in January announced her support for the legalization of marijuana, told the newspaper her office plans to have the nonprofit, non-partisan Code For America do the task.
According to Foxx, Code for America “can help us find some infrastructure support of being able to look at the [Cook County] clerk’s office, Dorothy Brown’s office, to be able to identify batches of people who are found or convicted of the statutory code for possession of marijuana.”
Code for America seeks to use technology to improve government. In February, the organization used a powerful algorithm to help expunge more than 8,000 convictions that date back more than 40 years, Mashable reported. The move was made after recreational weed was approved in California due to Proposition 64, which passed in 2016. The legislation opened the door for those with past cannabis convictions to be overturned.
Foxx said Code for America will work with her office to identify misdemeanor cases and estimates more than a thousand sentences could be tossed.
“The question is, how far back can we go? How far back does the data go — which will give us what our universe looks like? But we’re in the process of figuring that out,” she said.
One of the prosecutor’s spokespeople, Kiera Ellis said to the Sun-Times that Foxx’s office and Code for America have not yet signed a formal agreement. Maria Buczkowski, the organization’s spokesperson, only confirmed to the paper that the nonprofit is in discussions with Foxx’s office.
Along with overturning convictions, Foxx’s office will review its policy on indicting those arrested for the sale of pot, but it is in the early stages. Still, Foxx said she wanted to review her office’s policy “in light of the fact that legalization looks like it’s becoming apparent.”
“The next iteration of this is looking at those sales … We don’t want to be on the back end of trying to figure out what to do,” she said.
Still, not everyone is on board with her plan.
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 serves more than 10,000 Chicago police officers. Its president, Kevin Graham, said the union doesn’t support Foxx in her expungement endeavors.
“Even if the law changes, that does not change the fact that these people knew they were breaking the law, were arrested and convicted once again disregarding the hard work of police officers, who may have been injured while apprehending these offenders,” Graham told the Sun-Times via email.
He added the union’s officers “will only enforce the laws that are on the books.”
“If the laws change that is up to law makers and the Governor, but it is not up to the Cook County States Attorney,” he added.