The Rate at which Black People are Arrested Compared to White People Rose from 5:1 to 8:1
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The ACLU put out a press release on Monday that said African-Americans are arrested at 8 times the rate of Caucasians for pot possession in the state of Pennsylvania, according to philly.com.
The study, called Cannabis Crackdown, compared arrests for marijuana possession from 2010 and 2016 and found that there was a significant increase in arrests for marijuana among African-Americans. They also found that the rate at which Black people were arrested compared to White people rose from 5 to 1 to 8 to 1.
The study indicated that Black people and White people use marijuana at the same rate, yet Black people are still arrested 8 times more than White people for possession. Pennsylvania State Rep. Jordan Harris (D.) said at a news conference that racism is a factor and the proof is reflected in the numbers. “The simple fact to me is when you leave things up to being subjective, racial bias will prevail. I think these numbers show exactly that.”
The arrests for marijuana possession have cost taxpayers more than $225 million over the past 7 years. Marijuana activists also say that the arrests and incarceration for possession are disproportionate for people of color. The executive director of the Pennsylvania ACLU Reggie Shuford says that the numbers confirm the many studies that prove African-Americans are persecuted the most when it comes to the war on drugs. “Law enforcement won’t stop until they’re told to stop by policymakers. That is why it is time to legalize marijuana in Pennsylvania.” More than 1200 Black people per 100,000 were arrested in Montgomery County while less than 200 Caucasians per 100,000 were arrested for marijuana possession in 2014.
The exception was the city of Philadelphia, where arrests decreased by 88 percent after the city decriminalized marijuana possession in 2016. However, Black folks were still arrested at three times the rate of White folks.
Niko Mann is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles.