The Cook County State's Attorney's Office is set to automatically expunge an additional 214 cannabis cases on Friday, which brings the total number of cases to 15,191.
Over the past three years, relieved convictions have been fully removed from records as if they never happened, according to the SAO. After removal, the Clerk of the Circuit Court sent notice to the person.
The expungement has been automatic, requiring no action from people with eligible convictions, officials said.
“Felony charges can affect every aspect of a person’s life, from jobs to housing, long after the debt to society has been paid,” said Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. “I am proud that by working with advocates, Code for America, the Chief Judge’s Office, the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court, and the Illinois State Police we were able to bring relief for so many individuals so that they, their families, and their communities can move forward.”
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The Cannabis Expungement Project is coming to an end following the legalization of cannabis in Illinois, the SAO noted.
“This is so much more than conviction relief for thousands of individuals. This is about rebuilding trust in the criminal justice system," Foxx said.
According to the SAO, 588 cases dating back to 1965 remain in the system, but these have "insufficient data to expunge and require additional research."
The legislation, dubbed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, passed in the House last year, but did not move forward in the Senate. In addition to decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level, the bill would establish procedures for expunging previous convictions from people's records and impose a tax on the sale of cannabis products.
The tax would begin at 5 percent and eventually increase to 8 percent. Funding raised through the tax would go toward a fund to provide job training, mentoring, substance-use treatment, legal aid, re-entry services and youth recreation programs. It would also provide loans to help small businesses in the cannabis industry that are "owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals," a summary of the bill said.
The bill still must pass in the Senate.