The Grundy County Sheriff's Department will look to fill a vacant records clerk to position, in an effort to help expunge pot convictions as required by state law.
As a provision of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which made adult use recreational marijuana legal in Illinois on Jan.1, low level cannabis case records are now being expunged.
Automatic expungement is for misdemeanor or class 4 felony cannabis cases involving 30 grams or less, that were not connected to a violent crime.
Cases without a conviction will be expunged. If there was a conviction, the process is slightly longer, going though the state police, corrections, the governor's office, and the attorney general before coming to the local level for expungement.
To expunge a record simply means to erase it. Once expungement is complete, all records — from arrest through conviction if applicable — are no longer available for a police or public search.
Grundy County Sheriff Ken Briley told members of the County Board Law and Justice Committee last week that the process is slow, but ongoing.
"We have a state mandate that cases involving cannabis and paraphernalia, cases have to be expunged," Briley said. "So, for example, from today's date back to 2013, we have to have those cases expunged by Jan. 1, 2021, and there are 610 cases that we have in our system."
Briley said the county has 717 cases to expunge from 2000 to 2013, which must be complete by Jan. 1, 2023. Any cases prior to 2000 must be expunged by Jan. 1, 2025, he said.
Briley said the process is a significant amount of work.
"Cases that have, for example, a drug paraphernalia charge and then another charge, you're going to have to go in and look at that case individually because the other charge will remain and you have to redact out the drug stuff. So, every case is going to have to be looked at individually," he said. "In addition to the cases for the sheriff's office, we also have the jail that has records from every police department in Grundy County that delivers inmates to the jail, we also have to go in and look at all of that and expunge those on the same time frame."
Briley said there is a vacant records clerk position within the department that he will seek to fill to assist with the process. He said once that person is in place, he or she will process an average of three expungements per day.