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Reefa’ Smokin’ Arrests Lowered in New York
Police commissioner Ray Kelly gave cops orders to stop arresting low level weed smokers and the stats show they are doing just that.
After the order, the NYPD made 27,492 arrests for possession of marijuana in the fifth degree between Oct. 1 and May 31—24.4% fewer than the eight preceding months, the NYPD said.From Jan. 1, 2011, to Aug. 31, there had been 36,370 small-amount marijuana arrests, putting the NYPD on target to top 54,000 for the year and shatter a record of 51,267 set in 2000 under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani. There were more than 50,000 such arrests in 2011, the second most ever.
Under the current law, possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana shouldn’t result in an arrest unless it’s “burning or in public view.” The NYPD, however, will often ask the hundreds of thousands they stop on the streets each year (most of whom are black or Latino) to empty their pockets. When the marijuana comes out of the pocket, it becomes “in public view,” and they can make an arrest. Low down huh?
That was a walking, talking, and fully functioning catch 22 for blacks and Latinos before September. 87 percent of those arrested by the NYPD in 2011 were black or Latino.
With that said, Kelly’s September memo to cops– which read in part, “A crime will not be charged to an individual who is requested or compelled to engage in the behavior that results in the public display of marijuana”– got the Albany treatment this week, with Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing legislation to codify Ray Kelly’s directive into law. Under Cuomo’s proposal, low-level marijuana offenses would be punishable by a fine. Public reefer
pot-smoking however, would still be a crime. Cuomo says the plan would help DECREASE the number of blacks and Latinos behind bars.
Before the directive was enacted, There were more arrests for low-level marijuana offenses than any other crime in New York City. According to the Associated Press, marijuana arrests in New York account for one out of every seven cases in the city’s criminal courts. In 2010, the city spent $75 million to put pot-smokers behind bars.
So much more than the crime is worth. Upkeep of the offender has to cost the cities way more than the few grams of weed they possessed.
Surprisingly, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, otherwise a staunch defender of anything stop-and-frisk-related, supports Cuomo’s proposal, believing the governor’s plan to “strikes the right balance.”