Westchester Report Reveals Stark Marijuana Arrest Disparities

White Plains, NY — Right this moment, WESPAC Basis, Westchester Coalition for Police Reform, and the Drug Coverage Alliance launched a report highlighting marijuana prohibition enforcement practices in Westchester County and their disparate impression on Black and Latino residents.

The report, Marijuana Arrests and Enforcement in Westchester County, reveals that marijuana prohibition in Westchester county has largely focused individuals of shade and that the harms of prohibition—together with elevated obstacles to increased schooling, housing, and employment alternatives—have been born nearly completely by Westchester’s Black and Latino residents.

Primarily based on in depth evaluation of knowledge from the state Division of Prison Justice Providers, the report discovered that, much like New York Metropolis, these being arrested for low-level marijuana possession in Westchester have been largely younger individuals and largely individuals of shade. The report reveals that though solely 14 p.c of Westchester County’s residents are Black, Black individuals comprised over half (52 p.c) of these arrested for low-level marijuana possession in Westchester County from 2013-2017. Latino individuals have additionally been disproportionately impacted, comprising simply 26 p.c of residents, however 34 p.c of arrestees. These disparities exist regardless of information exhibiting comparable charges of use throughout racial and ethnic teams.

The disproportionate arrests amongst Black individuals for low-level marijuana possession holds true no matter whether or not communities have a large proportion of Black residents. Over the previous 5 years, the typical arrest charge for Black individuals (182 per 100,000 inhabitants) was about 9 instances that of whites (15) County-wide.

The report additionally paperwork how youth particularly are targets of marijuana enforcement in Westchester County. In 2017, 58 p.c of individuals arrested for low-level marijuana possession in Westchester County have been 25 years previous or youthful, and practically one in three (29 p.c) have been below the age of 20.

“Arrests for marijuana possession take an infinite toll on black and brown communities, destroying households, careers, houses and lives. The disparities in who’s arrested for marijuana use are a stark barometer of racially biased policing on this county and throughout the state. Legalizing, and regulating, marijuana is a essential racial justice problem and a typical sense public well being coverage,” mentioned Shannon Wong, Westchester Coalition for Police Reform member and Chapter Director, New York Civil Liberties Union.

Advocates within the prison justice area from throughout the state have pushed for the decriminalization of low-level marijuana possession for years citing the racially disproportionate enforcement and the devastating collateral penalties that may accompany a marijuana arrest or conviction, and are actually calling for legalization rooted in racial and financial justice.

“The legalization of marijuana is a racial justice problem in New York State. Westchester County has one of many highest charges of disproportionate marijuana policing in New York State which have precipitated hurt in communities of shade. The WESPAC Group wish to see these communities who’ve been most impacted by marijuana policing to be the primary to learn from its legalization by way of new enterprise improvement and entrepreneurship,” mentioned Nada Khader, Govt Director of WESPAC.

9 states and the District of Columbia have now ended marijuana prohibition and instituted insurance policies to tax and regulate marijuana — transferring oversight of marijuana insurance policies from the prison justice system to regulatory our bodies. Information from these states on developments in use and public security present that marijuana legalization has had no discernible adverse impression. And most significantly, individuals are not being confronted each day with the specter of criminalization due to their use.

Momentum is constructing for marijuana coverage reform in New York State, and advocates throughout Westchester County and the state are calling for an finish to marijuana prohibition and signing on to the Begin SMART NY marketing campaign to tax and regulate marijuana. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (Krueger/Peoples-Stokes), which might legalize marijuana for grownup use in New York and reclassify or seal data for prior marijuana arrests, is pending within the legislature. Moreover, the New York State Division of Well being not too long ago launched its report on the impression of marijuana legalization for the state, concluding that “the professionals of a regulated program outweigh the cons” and endorsing legalization and measures to handle the collateral penalties individuals face for a previous marijuana possession conviction.

“As states throughout the nation proceed to re-envision their marijuana insurance policies, it’s crucial that New York flip the web page on marijuana prohibition and the in depth harm it has completed to communities. We have now seen how different states have successfully shifted away from criminalization and are as an alternative reinvesting in communities and offering financial alternatives. There may be ample proof that ending marijuana prohibition is a great approach for New York coverage makers to uphold the rights of all New Yorkers and help financial development. In the end, one of the simplest ways to handle the disparities and challenges posed by prohibition is to create a system to tax and regulate marijuana that can restore and reinvest in communities which have been most harmed by the marijuana arrest campaign,” mentioned Chris Alexander of the Drug Coverage Alliance. 

Learn the total report: http://smart-ny.com/marijuana-arrestswestchester

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