On Friday, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (CCSAO) will present 214 additional cannabis cases to be automatically expunged, bringing the total to 15,191. The Cannabis Expungement Project nears an end following the legalization of Cannabis in Illinois.
“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.”
For over 3 years, during this process, expunged convictions were removed from individuals’ records as though they never happened. Once that record was removed, the Clerk of the Circuit Court mailed or emailed a notice to the individual’s last known address. This relief was “automatic” and required no action from individuals with eligible convictions.
On December 11, 2019, State’s Attorney Foxx personally filed the first 100 motions to vacate in advance of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which took effect on January 1, 2020. Court closures delayed proceedings due to COVID-19 in 2020 but continued later that year.
Foxx added, “this is so much more than conviction relief for thousands of individuals. This is about rebuilding trust in the criminal justice system.”
The final 588 remaining cases in the system, dating back as far as 1965, have insufficient data to expunge and require additional research. The CCSAO is working with state and county partners to resolve the data issues.