Pubdate: Thu, 06 Jun 2013
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Copyright: 2013 SF Newspaper Company LLC
Author: Chris Roberts
Referenced: The War on Marijuana in Black and White: Report


In San Francisco, black people are more than four times more likely 
to be arrested for marijuana crimes than whites, according to a new 
report from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The arrest rate for blacks in The City is double the nationwide 
average - 2.2 black people are arrested for pot crimes for every 
white person who is arrested - and has the highest racial disparity 
of any county in California, according to the report, The War on 
Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially 
Biased Arrests.

The ACLU went through arrest rates in 50 states, county by county, 
and found that marijuana arrests have increased steadily since 2001 
and that those detentions account for 46 percent of all drug arrests.

Nationwide, a black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested 
for a marijuana offense, despite white people using marijuana at a 
similar rate.

"In over 96% of counties with more than 30,000 population in which at 
least 2% of the residents are Black, Blacks are arrested at higher 
rates than whites for marijuana possession," the report found.

In California, five counties had racially disparate arrest figures 
above that national average: San Francisco, Marin, Lake, Sacramento 
and Kern counties, according to the report.

San Francisco and Marin have the most racially disparate numbers, 
with 192 black people arrested for pot for every 44 white people in 
San Francisco, and 507 blacks arrested for every 123 whites in Marin.

The numbers for San Francisco are also disparate despite the steadily 
declining black population in The City. Black residents are about 6.3 
percent of the population in The City, according to census figures. 
Caucasians make up about 42 percent of San Francisco. There are five 
times as many whites as blacks in The City, yet there are four times 
as many black people arrested for pot than whites, according to the report.

In a statement released late Wednesday, the Police Department denied 
any racial profiling. San Francisco police arrested 11 people - five 
whites, five blacks and one Latino - for misdemeanor marijuana 
possession offenses in 2011, out of a total of 14,000 misdemeanor 
arrests. All of those marijuana arrests were "secondary" to other 
offenses, police said.

Drug arrests were down 16 percent in The City from 2011 to 2012, 
according to the most recent police data.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom