ImageMayor de Blasio promised to end racial disparity in marijuana enforcement in New York
16 May, 2018, 02:54
A major investigation by the New York Times found continued racial disparities in marijuana enforcement and arrests in every neighborhood in the City. "The number of arrests in that precinct, the 76th Precinct, were 246 arrests".
The Manhattan district attorney's office said Tuesday it will no longer prosecute people for possessing and smoking marijuana, a move that will sharply reduce the low-level criminal charges that overwhelmingly affect black and Hispanic people.
"The dual mission of the Manhattan DA's Office is a safer NY and a more equal justice system", said District Attorney Cy Vance. "The ongoing arrest and criminal prosecution of predominantly black and brown New Yorkers for smoking marijuana serves neither of these goals".
"The NYPD will overhaul and reform its policies related to marijuana enforcement in the next 30 days", he said but did not elaborate. "We are in discussions with the mayor and police commissioner to consider limited exceptions to this policy, the goal of which is to radically reduce the criminal prosecution of these offenses". "Ultimately, the best way to address the disparities and challenges posed by prohibition is to create a system to tax and regulate marijuana that will reinvest in communities that have been most harmed by the marijuana arrest crusade", Frederique continued. "This work has yielded valuable insights into how responsibly to frame any future laws and regulations to avoid negative impacts on public safety". "We need an honest assessment about why they exist and balance it in the context of the public safety needs of all communities". Hispanic people were arrested at five times the rate of white people.
The mayor's comments, delivered at a progressive policy conference in Washington that he had already planned to attend, came as the district attorneys in Brooklyn and Manhattan were working on plans to stop prosecuting the vast majority of people arrested for marijuana. Arrests can negatively impact job opportunities, schooling and immigration status. There are often no punitive, rehabilitative or deterrent purposes in these cases, the DA said.
It is part of a wider effort by Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NY police department to review how law enforcement deals with low-level marijuana crime.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who referred to marijuana as a "gateway drug" less than a year ago, now plans to form a panel to study its legalization.
DPA is now leading a campaign, Start Smart New York, to pass marijuana legalization in New York, with a focus on racial, social and economic justice. Some states, like NY, have decriminalized marijuana, making it a violation and not a crime to possess small amounts of cannabis.
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