Chicago and its environs are planning to change how it will deal with low-level drug charges, according to Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
Those charged with a misdemeanor for possession of marijuana will have their cases dismissed if they have fewer than three arrests or citations. Low-level charges like these amounted to 15,000 cases last year in Cook County, which comprises Chicago and many surrounding suburbs.
The main focus of the program will be an alternative prosecution system designed to divert repeat low-level drug offenders out of the criminal justice system. The program, the first of its kind, will target those with non-violent Class 4 felony possession charges and link them with social service agencies in lieu of pursuing further criminal charges. Spokeswoman Daly stated that these changes will not apply to pending cases.
Class 4 felony possession charges made up 25 percent of felony cases in Cook County last year.
Mayor Rahm Emmanuel stated in support of the ordinance that it would free up police resources to focus on more serious crimes.
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