Monday, June 17, 2013

Marijuana Arrests: It's a Black Thang

Who are the victims of mass incarceration? Many are young people arrested for possession of marijuana and taxpayers who shell out roughly $50,000 per year to "save society" from each nonviolent youth with a joint. More than 1.6 million people were arrested for drug offenses in the US in 2010, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report 2010, and more than half of them were for marijuana. That's a drug arrest every 19 seconds, 24 hours a day, every day. The numbers suggest that despite "no more war on drugs" rhetoric emanating from Washington, the drug war juggernaut is rolling along on cruise control. Marijuana arrests in 2010 stood at 853,838 (Data from "Stop the Drug" at the link below).

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, billions of dollars are wasted on racially biased arrests.
The aggressive enforcement of marijuana possession laws needlessly ensnares hundreds of thousands of people into the criminal justice system and wastes billions of taxpayers’ dollars. What’s more, it is carried out with staggering racial bias.

Blacks are four times more likely to endure marijuana arrests than whites, although marijuana usage is slightly higher among whites. Rev. Jessie Jackson and others planned a march on White House on June 17 over marijuana arrests. Arrests may be to eliminate blacks competing for jobs and to take voting rights. Rev. Jackson says blacks are in a "state of emergency" and requests the President's help.
Black and brown youths are probably 100 times more likely to endure warrantless searches of their persons than their white counterparts. The recent "stop and frisk" trial in New York revealed that police were instructed to intimidate minorities and were actually given arrest quotas. The United States Department of Justice is set to investigate New York for a pattern of civil rights violations. See "Atty. Gen.Eric Holder Turns DOJ Attention Towards Mayor Bloomberg, Ray Kelly Over ‘Stop And Frisk.'"

This DEA agent was told not to enforce drug laws in "white" areas, really (video).

Taxpayers have shouldered the cost of arresting and incarcerating hundreds of thousands of people for the possession of marijuana, often in small quantities for personal use. Some national estimates put the annual cost of marijuana arrests above $10 billion, and low-level arrests for marijuana possession cost New York City alone $75 million in 2010.

In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal seeks to reduce incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders by diverting them to alternative programs, including drug courts, DUI courts, mental health courts, day reporting centers and expanded probation and treatment options. Other states should follow his lead to lessen the burden on taxpayers and avoid over-prosecution of marijuana users.

Besides the racism and over-prosecution inherent in America's "War on Drugs," many lives have been lost in the war, including police officers and potential defendants. New York police officers recently followed a teen home, entered by force, and shot him to death as he flushed a small amount of marijuana down the toilet. Can you picture that happening to a Caucasian child in an affluent neighborhood? It is time for everyone, especially African Americans and Latinos, to unite and denounce mass incarceration with Rev. Jackson, Dr. Boyce Watkins and Russell Simmons, along with 175 celebrities and public figures in their campaign to end the War on Drugs and Mass Incarceration.  You can learn more at this link. 

The real shame is that the criminal justice system is sometimes used to penalize people for noncriminal behavior. For example, a judge recently responded to an assault victim by demanding sex in exchange for 'legal favors.' She filed a complaint, and he sent cops to plant meth in her car. If the judge had not retaliated against the woman for rejecting his sexual advances, neither he nor the police officers would be in trouble today. Many civil and human rights activists and nonprofit organizations also claim being wrongly targeted for criminal prosecution and/or IRS audits for using their free speech rights.

See more information at "Stop the Drug War" website. Select the "home" button for recent news.

Which of these young people is the most likely subject for arrest?

BE SOBER, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. ~1 Peter 5:8


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