June 18, 2014

Over 100,000 Rape Kits Go Untested While Marijuana Users Get Arrested

June 18, 2014
marijuana prohibition

marijuana prohibitionHere is a ridiculous question – would you rather cops focus on catching rapists or marijuana users? Obviously the answer is police should be focusing on catching rapists. Marijuana users are not harming anyone, while a rapist can ruin numerous lives in a short amount of time. Every minute that a rapist is loose on the streets is a minute that could result in another violent crime being committed by them.

I understand that catching a rape suspect is not easy. One of the biggest tools that law enforcement has to help catch rapists is testing rap kits which contain DNA evidence. Sadly, there is an enormous backlog of rape kits that are going untested across America. Forensic units at law enforcement agencies with rape kit backlogs are quick to state that they don’t have the funding to catch up on their work. These same police agencies arrest marijuana users. Cleary there is a priority issue. Per the Drug Policy Alliance:

“In 2009, authorities found more than 11,000 unprocessed kits at the Detroit crime lab after it was closed for improperly handling weapons evidence. After testing the first 2,000 kits, authorities identified 127 serial rapists and made 473 matches overall to known convicts or arrestees, or to unknown people whose genetic material was found at crime scenes.”

The real question is why does this backlog exist at all? Cities and states claim they don’t have the money or other resources, but they sure do have plenty of time and money to arrest people for drugs.

About 1.5 million Americans are arrested for drugs annually – about 660,000 for nothing more than possession of marijuana for personal use. It takes up to three hours to process someone after an arrest. And since most arrests involve multiple officers in multiple police cars it’s potentially dozens of lost police hours just to arrest one person for marijuana.

It costs an estimated $10,000 to arrest, process, and convict someone for marijuana possession. Then there’s the cost of keeping thousands of drug task forces operational, most of which do nothing but bust people for marijuana or other low-level drug offenses. New York City claims to not have enough money to test all its rape test kits but spends millions each year randomly searching young people of color for marijuana.


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