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Cook County Reverses 1,000 Marijuana Convictions, While Governor Promises More To Come

J.B. Pritzker speaks with reporters in his ceremonial office
Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois

More than a thousand Illinoisans with low-level marijuana convictions had their records wiped clean Wednesday. It’s part of the new marijuana legalization coming in January.

In Cook County’s criminal courthouse, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx filed paperwork to erase more than a thousand convictions. She began with cases that had relatively small amount of marijuana — less than 30 grams — and that were not tied to violence.

The law allows people with more serious convictions to also seek clearance.

Foxx said it’s important for prosecutors to help people move forward.

“We must own our role in the harm that we have caused — and particularly to communities of color — and we must actively work to play our part in reversing those harms,” Foxx said.

Foxx read about a hundred of the names of people whose convictions were about to be vacated.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who joined Foxx at a news conference after the hearing, said that scene will soon play out across the state.

“The 1,012 names that State’s Attorney Foxx began to read in the courtroom represent 1,012 real people who be given a second lease on life,” Pritzker said. “And this is only the beginning.”

For cases not covered by the Cook County state’s attorney, Pritzker’s office says he’ll issue pardons and authorize expungement of records. The administration says the Illinois State Police has already combed its files and gotten that process underway.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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