Running Head: Marijuana Conviction
Marijuana: Racial Disparity
Public Administration 575
May 13, 2017
This paper explores the effects of marijuana on African Americans in the United States, and the differentials in arrest and conviction when paired against Caucasian Americans. The purpose of this study is to determine whether there is a difference in the conviction rates and arrest rates between African Americans and Caucasian Americans. The research provided from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the American Civil Liberties Union will be detailed throughout the paper to help further explain the differentials. There has been an increased amount of arrest and convictions of African American and Caucasian Americans due to marijuana. In the year2015 alone, there was over a million arrest in the United States for marijuana violations.
The paper will provide a history of arrests and percentages among African Americans and Caucasian Americans and the possession of marijuana. The statistical information will be provided by using the arrests rates from peer reviewed scholarly articles, books, and academic sources. The paper will specifically target sources that show the differentials between African Americans and Caucasian Americans marijuana arrest rates in the United States. This essay will prove not only does African Americans get arrested for marijuana violations more than Caucasian Americans After careful analysis of the essay, readers will be ale comprehend that African Americans are arrested and convicted for marijuana offenses at a much higher rate than Caucasian Americans.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States and is used widespread among young people and older people. Marijuana refers to dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. (Grant, 2013) Marijuana has attributed to several arrest and convictions in the United States of America. Marijuana in the United States has been a topic of discussion and has held a huge grip on the government on whether to allow marijuana in different states. In recent years, several states have passed laws that decriminalized marijuana, and a majority of Americans now support legalizing the drug. Yet between 2001 and 2010, there were over 8 million pot arrests in the U.S. What’s worse, the authorities making the arrests were targeting African Americans far more than Caucasian Americans. (Grant, 2013)
There has been a divide in arrest between African Americans and Caucasian Americans in the United States when it comes to marijuana violations. Due to the high marijuana arrest that have occurend in the past several years, it is difficult for people to understand the difference between of how African Americans are treated and Caucasian Americans. African Americans have been documented as a problem with law enforcement in general, the record is even more replete with examples of race-based profiling in the implementation of drug laws. This practice has led to selective arrests and prosecution for petty drug crimes, in turn resulting in the systematic incarceration of people of color in the criminal justice system. (Alexandre) The amount of African Americans in the criminal justice system with marijuana violations is high, and with a criminal past, African Americans are looked at by police officers have focused on low-income areas to arrest these individuals for marijuana.
Conviction rates in the United States for Marijuana violations are a substance of marijuana arrests. African-Americans make up 12% of the nation’s drug users, but represent 34% of those arrested for drug offenses, and 45% of those in state prison for such offense as of 2015. (Whitaker, 2015) The police have used different tactics that have led to arrest of African Americans such as racially profiling African Americans, illegal stops made by police, and stop and frisk. Marijuana violations have led to arrest and the conviction rates of African Americans to rise due to the inconsistencies of the judicial system. It is hypothesized that the violations accrued from marijuana has attributed to African Americans being arrested and convicted at much higher rate Caucasian Americans.
Wegman (2014) finds that African Americans and Caucasian Americans use marijuana at comparable rates. Yet in all states but Hawaii, African American are more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana offenses. Marijuana violations have led to arrest and conviction rates of people in the United States. Levine (2013) finds that, from 2001 to 2010, the police made more than 8.2 million marijuana arrests; almost nine in ten were for possession alone. In 2011, there were more arrests for marijuana possession than for all violent crimes combined in the United Sates. There are rules and policies that prevent the use of marijuana in the various states in the United States. Between the years 2001-2010, the vast majority of counties arrest African American at a higher rate than Caucasian Americans, with some having a disparity of greater than ten to one. According to Levine (2013), taxpayers have shouldered the cost of arresting and incarcerating hundreds of thousands of people for the possession of marijuana, often in small quantities for personal use. Some national estimates put the annual cost of marijuana arrests above ten billion dollars, and low-level arrests for marijuana possession.
The arrest rates for possession of marijuana for African Americans have been higher from the years 2001 through 2010. Levine (2013) discussed two enduring facts about marijuana use and arrests across the country were: Caucasian American people and African American people use marijuana equally, but the police do not arrest them equally. Over the last fifteen years, police departments in the United States made one million arrests for marijuana possession—an average of almost 700,000 arrests a year. In the United States, African Americans were arrested for marijuana possession at higher rates than Caucasians Americans in every state, city, and county —as FBI Uniform Crime Reports and state databases indisputably show. States with the largest racial disparities arrest African Americans at six times the rate of whites (Levine, 2013). The disparity among the convictions of African Americans and Caucasian Americans typically stem from the areas that the police deemed “high crime areas.” Levine (2013) states that police departments concentrate their patrols in certain neighborhoods that are mainly low-income areas that house both African Americans and Caucasians. The drug war has been waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color even though studies have consistently shown now for decades that contrary to popular belief, people of color are no more likely to use or sell illegal drugs than whites, but by waging this drug war almost exclusively in poor communities of color, we’ve now created a vast new racial under-caste.” (Whitaker, 2015) Police officers who patrol in middle and upper class areas typically do not search the vehicles and pockets of Caucasian American people. “Our nation’s prison population has more than quintupled,” “And this is due largely to the war on drugs and the ‘get tough’ movement. (Whitaker, 2015) The war on drugs have been a huge detriment to the communists who suffer from low poverty. Those areas have high police influence due to the high crime rates.
Gould, Johnson, & Dunlap, (2008) identified discrimination as being complex; any charges of bias in enforcement need to consider the possibility of differential involvement in offending by race/ethnicity. The focus of their research was the disparity of African Americans, among other races, held a higher percentage than any other race in the criminal justice system. Nguyen & Reuter (2012) showed the racial disparity in drug arrests and typically found that a focus on outdoor drug activity and police perceptions are often the main reason for an overrepresentation of African Americans who are arrested. The American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) disclosed the vast difference among both African Americans and whites convicted of marijuana possession. In 2010, the nationwide arrest rates for whites were 192 people convicted out of every 100,000 thousand people. Out of every 100,000 thousand African Americans there were 716 people convicted. The ACLU stated that, in the Midwest, African Americans are over four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites. In the South, African Americans are three times more likely to get arrested.
Ramchand (2006) suggested that African Americans are more likely to engage in risky purchasing behaviors, such as buying marijuana outdoors, from strangers, and away from their place of residence. Despite the county household income levels, the disparity in marijuana progression arrests exist and are greater in the middle income and more affluent counties. In the counties with the 15 highest median household incomes, which is about 85 thousand to 115 thousand, African Americans are two to eight more times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites (Edwards, 2013). Although the disparity of marijuana arrests is documented, there are mixed findings in regard to the increase in arrests of marijuana possession is consistent across all races (Schwartz, 2013). Out of all the States in the United States, Iowa has the greatest racial disparity in arrests out of all states. Black Iowans are 8.3 times more likely to be arrested, despite the fact that African-Americans make up just 3.1 percent of the population (Khorri, 2013). Atkinson (2013) states that between 2001 and 2010, there were more than seven million arrests for marijuana possession in the U.S. There is a substantial amount of racial disparity in the American and prison and jail system. The overall rates of incarceration are all at records high, one in nine (11.7%) African American men between the ages of 25 and 29 is currently incarcerated in prison or in jail.
In the research conducted by Beckett (2012), marijuana prohibition contributed to racial inequalities in the United States, because marijuana arrests are not evenly distributed across the population. Approximately 30 percent of those arrested for violating marijuana laws are African Americans, who pay the highest costs along with their families and communities (Beckett, 2012). African American communities have been subject to high levels of arrest and incarceration for drug offenses in the United States. A study conducted in 25 of the largest counties in California found that African Americans were arrested for marijuana possession at double, triple, or even quadruple the rate of Caucasian Americans; however, U.S. Government studies have consistently found that young African Americans use marijuana at lower rates than young Caucasian Americans (Levine, Gettman, & Siegel, 2010). For drug abuse violations in the United States, 45 percent of the states dealt with marijuana. African Americans were arrested on drug charges at rates that were 2.8 to 5.5 times as high as those of Caucasian American adults in every year from 1980 through 2007. About one in three of the more than 25.4 million adult drug arrestees during that period was African American (Fellner, 2009).
In research conducted by Nguyen & Reuter (2012) they find that the incarceration rates and racial distributions were affected by resources devoted to policing and prosecution initiatives that emphasize large-scale drug arrests, as well as policing in communities of color, at the expense of drug treatment and diversion programs. The focus of their research is the number of annual drug arrests, increased every year from 1980-2007. In the year 2006, there were a total of 1,382,783 arrests for marijuana possession. Fellner (2009) discussed the rate of prison admission on drug charges for African Americans was 256.2 per 100,000 African Americans adult residents. For Caucasian Americans, the rate was 25.3 per 100,000 Caucasian American adults. Between 1986 and 2003, the rate of prison admission for African Americans on drug charges quintupled; the white rate did not quite triple (Fellner, Targeting Blacks, 2008). Since 2003, African Americans constituted 53.5 percent of all persons who entered prison because of a drug arrest. Among all African Americans who entered the prison system, almost two out of five (38.2 percent) were arrested of drug offenses, compared to one in four Caucasian Americans (25.4 percent). The imprisonment of African Americans in the criminal justice system compared to white Americans is 5.6, among the states the ratio ranges from a high of nearly 14 to one in Iowa to a low of less than two to one in Hawaii.
It appears that the racial disparity of African American and Caucasian Americans with the use of marijuana and the incarceration rates. African Americans get convicted of marijuana possession at higher rates than Caucasian Americans. Many of the statistics show the differences of both conviction rates and the amount of people who are in prison due to being either stopped or detained for marijuana. The study shows that Caucasian Americans may use marijuana more than African Americans, but African Americans are convicted at a much higher rate. Taken as a whole, it appears that exposing the myths that African Americans are treated fairly, and the amount of incarceration rates that is given towards the race and also more doubling Caucasian Americans for marijuana, indicates that the government targets African Americans.
The impact of being arrested or convicted for marijuana related crimes are different among African Americans and Caucasian Americans. Among the differentials in possession or distribution, the impact on the lives of these individuals are different due to race. African American who are arrested for possession of marijuana have a label of a drug dealer.
Caution must be advised, though; Levine, Gettman, & Siegel (2010) and Mauer & King (2007) and Fellner, Targeting Blacks (2008) Fellner, Decades of Disparity, (2009) were based upon journal articles that provided information from the federal burea and the census.
The method used to find marijuana arrest rates between African America and Caucasian Americans will be a post positivist approach. Gathering data from United States criminal justice systems and comparing the data to see whether there is a differential in conviction rates between African American and Caucasian Americans in the year 2013. The quantitative approach will be able to get information from the data selected in 2013 and will be able to see the percentages of both races conviction rates. The report relies on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program and the United States Census’ annual county population estimates to document conviction rates by race per 100,000 for marijuana possession.
The information is open to the public and can be accessed on the American Civil Liberties Union and the Federal Bureau of Investigation websites. The plan is to use statistical data from the criminal justice system of the United States.
Conviction in relation to Marijuana Arrest
The indictments rates are based on marijuana arrest can be expressed in terms of cases that go to trial or in terms of the number of cases reported to police.
Trial-Based Convictions: The statistics from the prosecution of courts or authorities that focused on the marijuana cases that went to trial. The trial based convictions would be based on crimes that did not make it to trial.
Report Based Convictions: The conviction rates in this report are calculated in relation to the number of marijuana arrest made by police. This approach would be able to recognize the criminal justice system and hold the police and prosecution responsible that marijuana arrestees are brought to be booked.
The demographics of the United States vary due to the amount of people in each state who were not convicted for the use of marijuana. The criteria for the study were the arrest rates for any person who was arrested for marijuana. In the year 2001 to 2010, law enforcement arrested an estimated 11,302,102 people in the United States. There 1,501,043 arrest that were drug related in the United States. There were 693,481 thousand marijuana arrests that were made in the United States. This report is the first to examine marijuana conviction arrest rates by race for all 50 states (and the District of Columbia) and their respective counties from 2001 to 2010.
The data that will be used to find the comparison between African Americans arrest rates and Caucasian Americans arrest rates will take time, due to the material that will be needed to get the correct information on both African American and Caucasian American marijuana arrest. The cost to research is free, as long as the internet is available. The information will be attainable by researching marijuana arrest.
The research provided in this paper will find that African Americans are more likely to be convicted for marijuana related offenses than any other race. The statistics of the information provided will give percentages of the total amount of arrest for either the use, sell, or distribution of marijuana. The expectation is to find the percentages using nationwide demographics of the United States of African Americans and Caucasian Americans.
The most important aspect to understand is why African Americans have considerably higher chances to be convicted in rural parts of the regions than Caucasian Americans. Marijuana is an illegal drug that people in the United States have been fighting to have legalized. The United States of America has been conducting a war on drugs and many African Americans have been casualties, but the criminalization of African Americans for petty crimes has been perhaps the most destructive part. Perhaps, the United States criminal justice system is focused on arresting African Americans for marijuana than any other crime. By understanding and comprehending the logistics of why police target African Americans more than any other race for any crime that involves marijuana would help get a better understanding of why there is such a disparity between African Americans and Caucasian Americans conviction rates.
The war on marijuana has been a major factor in the United States and has been an important instrument for the police to use to arrest African American for either use or distribution. It is important to understand the differentials of how the police arrest more African Americans in the United States than any other race despite the fact that marijuana is used more by Caucasian Americans. Throughout the research paper there are statistics that are given that allows readers to get a better understanding of the disparity of arrest that African Americans go through on a yearly basis. Throughout the many states in the U.S., African Americans are over six times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than Caucasian American. African Americans make up 50 percent or 25 percent of a county’s overall population, they are still more likely to be convicted of a marijuana charge than any other race in the United States.
States around the country spend a total of 3.6 billion dollars combined trying to enforce marijuana possession laws. African Americans cannot continue to be the main source of arrest for police departments because of who they are and where they live. States should think about legalizing marijuana through either taxation, licensing, and regulation should reduce the amount of marijuana arrest and convictions of African Americans. The focus of arrest made police is taking away from other violent crimes that do not have attention due to it all being on marijuana.
The federal government should end marijuana possession arrests as a performance measure of law enforcement agencies, and the use of or application for federal funds, and redirect such funds currently forced to fight the War on Drugs toward different drug treatments, research on treatment models and strategies, and public education that will teach young adults the about the use of marijuana. African Americans have a problem that many of the young men that grow up need to understand the importance of how easy the police are targeting them for marijuana and have to make changes in order not to find themselves convicted for this crime. If government officials and representatives of states can devise a plan in order for both African Americans and Caucasian Americans to stop being arrested of petty crimes and use that money for major crimes, there would be a lot less individuals in jail and we could then uses that money for community programs
Alexandre, M. (2013). First Comes Legalization, then Comes What? Tips for Washington and Colorado to Help Break the Cycle of Selective Prosecution and Disproportionate Sentencing. SSRN Electronic Journal SSRN Journal.
Alvarez, E. (2014). Crime in Texas. In Texas Almanac 2014-2015 (pp. P559-563). College Station: Texas State Historical Assn Press.
Carson, E. (2014, September 30). Prisoners in 2013. Retrieved October 20, 2015.
Crutchfield, R., & Fernandes, A. (2010). Racial and ethnic disparity and criminal justice: How much is too much? (3rd ed., Vol. 100, pp. 903-932). Northwestern University, School of Law.
Beckett, K. (2012). The Futility and High Cost of Criminalizing Marijuana . Scholars Strategy Network .
Edwards, E. (2013). The War on Marijuana Black and White . American Civil Liberty Union , 1.
Fellner, J. (2008). Targeting Blacks. US: ‘Drug War’ Unjust to African Americans.
Fellner, J. (2009). Decades of Disparity. Drugs Arrest and Race in the United States.
Gould, A., Johnson, B. D., & Dunlap, E. (2008). THE RACE/ETHNICITY DISPARITY IN MISDEMEANOR MARIJUANA ARRESTS IN NEW YORK CITY. Criminol Public Policy.
Khorri, A. (2013). States spend $3.6 billion on racially biased marijuana arrests. The New York Amsterdam News , 1.
Layzer, J. A. (2012). The Enviromental Case . Washington D.C: CQ Press.
Levine, H. (2013). THE SCANDAL OF RACIST MARIJUANA ARRESTS. THE NATION, 18-23.
Levine, H. G., Gettman, J. B., & Siegel, L. (2010). Targeting Blacks for Marijuana-Possession Arrests of African Americans in California, 2004-08. Marijuana Arrest Research Project , 12.
Mauer, M., & King, R. S. (2007). Uneven Justice: State Rates of Incarceration By Race and Ethnicity . Washington : The Sentencing Project .
Mauer, M. (2010). Human Rights. In Justice for All? Challenging Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System. (4th ed., Vol. 37, pp. P14-16).
Meehan, A., & Ponder, M. (n.d.). Race and place: The ecology of racial profiling African American motorists. Justice Quarterly, 399-430.
Nguyen, H., & Reuter, P. (2012). How Risky Is Marijuana Possession? Considering the Role of Age, Race, And Gender. Crime and Deliquencey.
Ramchand, R. P. (2006). Racial differences in marijuanausers’. Drug and Alchol Dependence , 264-272.
Schwartz, D. S. (2013). HIGH FEDERALISM: MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION AND THE LIMITS OF FEDERAL POWER TO REGULATE STATES . Cardozo Law Review , 567-641.
Substance Abuse Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. SAMHSA. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015.pdf. Published September 8, 2016.
Texas Crime Analysis. (n.d.). Retrieved October 20, 2015.
Wegman, J. (2014, July 28). The Injustice of Marijuana Arrests. Retrieved December 14, 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/29/opinion/high-time-the-injustice-of-marijuana-arrests.html?_r=0
Umsted, Z. (2014). Deterring Racial Bias in Criminal Justice through Sentencing. (1st ed., Vol. 100, pp. P431-453). Iowa: Iowa Law Review.
Ziendenberg, J., & Schiraldi, V. (n.d.). Race and Imprisonment in Texas. Retrieved October 20, 2015, from http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/05-02_rep_txraceimprisonment_ac-rd.pdf