In six states, plus the District of Columbia, blacks are over five times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites are. The national average? Black Americans are arrested nearly four times as much. And it’s not because of increased use of the drug: according to the New York Times’s report, black and white Americans have about the same rates of marijuana use overall. So what’s going on?
Essentially, the Times explains, it’s probably one of a handful of biases written into the system of local law enforcement nationwide. The data they’re using is from 2010, and was also used by the ACLU for a new report. The ACLU cites the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program as one possible reason for the disparity. That’s because, they explain, the program incentivizes increasing drug arrest numbers by tying the statistics to funding. Law enforcement officials then concentrate on lower income neighborhoods to keep those numbers up, finding the lowest hanging fruit of crimes to enforce.
Good to see this getting some play in the media. People should be outraged by this.