Undoing Damage Done

LA County Public Defender Ricardo Garcia speaks at the press conference to announce 66,000 marijuana case dismissals.

The dismissal of 66,000 marijuana convictions in L.A. County announced Feb. 13 signals a progressive and more modern way of looking at criminal justice reform after decades of draconian drug laws, LA County Public Defender Ricardo García said during a press conference.

Call this hotline for help on marijuana case dismissals.

“These draconian drug laws have had an incredible disproportional impact on minorities and particularly African Americans,” García said. “This resulted in a cycle of poverty and reincarceration and has kept many individuals from regular employment, education, opportunities — and most important permanent housing.”

Much of the homelessness crisis we see today is a direct result of these kinds of enforcements, he said.

“We see the big charges on the news because they make wonderful media coverage. But it is these cases, these marijuana convictions and convictions like these that have an incredible daily impact on Angelenos’ lives. By doing this we are changing this injustice and I could not be prouder that our Office has been a part of that.”

Chief Deputy Public Defender Jenny Brown and Assistant Public Defender Ruben Marquez attended the event, held by the DA’s Office.

Public Defender Ricardo Garcia is interviewed by Telemundo and other media outlets regarding the cannabis case dismissals.

The effort was part of a partnership with the PD’s Office, DA’s Office and Code for America, a nonprofit tech organization that developed a computer algorithm to quickly analyze county data to determine which cases were eligible to be cleared under Proposition 64. The 2016 measure legalized, among other things, the possession and purchase of up to an ounce of marijuana and allowed people to grow as many as six plants for personal use.

The Public Defender’s Office has set up a hotline (323) 760-6763 for the public to call to obtain information and begin the marijuana convictions dismissal process if they qualify. The number will direct people to the LA County Public Defender website at pubdef.lacounty.gov. Once there, people should click the “Cannabis Dismissals” tab. The website will give general information about the dismissals and people will be able to submit a fillable form with their contact and conviction information. Once received, our Record Clearing Unit will reply as soon as possible.