A new study concludes black Americans were almost four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession in 2010, according to The New York Times. Blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates, the study notes.
In some states, such as Illinois, Minnesota and Iowa, blacks are about eight times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, according to the study released by the American Civil Liberties Union. The report is based on police records from all 50 states. Researchers at Stanford University independently reviewed much of the data in the report for The New York Times.
About half of all drugs arrests in 2010 and 2011 were related to marijuana, the article notes.
Phillip Atiba Goff, a psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, told the newspaper police departments have an incentive to concentrate on minority or poorer neighborhoods to raise their drug arrest statistics. They focus on low-level offenses such as marijuana possession that are easier, faster and less expensive to investigate than more serious crimes. “Whenever federal funding agencies encourage law enforcement to meet numerical arrest goals instead of public safety goals, it will likely promote stereotype-based policing and we can expect these sorts of racial gaps,” he said.
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