Criminal Justice

Chicago prosecutor will dismiss misdemeanor marijuana cases

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In the latest move in a continuing push toward decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana and other drugs, a Chicago prosecutor’s office has announced that it will no longer pursue such cases.

Instead of being prosecuted by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, offenders will either be let off the hook entirely or directed to a diversion program that is being created, reports the Chicago Tribune (reg. req.). The focus of the diversion program will be rehabilitation.

Those accused of nonviolent misdemeanor offenses will be the initial focus of the new approach, said Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez at a Monday news conference. She said the intent is to free up court resources to deal with violent crime, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

At least initially, existing cases will not be affected by the new approach. Alvarez also said, in response to a question, that she wants police to keep arresting people for minor drug offenses so that they can be directed to alternative resources.

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