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In Iowa, blacks are EIGHT TIMES as likely to be busted for pot - while making up THREE PERCENT of population

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 5th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It's an alarming disparity that suggests that the United States still has a long way to go in its march towards equality. According to a study conducted in 2010 by the American Civil Liberties Union, black people are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people. In Iowa, blacks were arrested 8.34 times more often for pot than whites where, according to U.S. Census figures, blacks make up just three percent of that state's population.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Following close behind, in Washington, D.C. blacks were arrested 8.05 times more often for pot possession, 7.81 times more often in Minnesota, 7.56 times more often in Illinois, and in Wisconsin blacks were arrested 5.98 more often for possessing the drug.

"Iowa has been a leading state among civil rights and should not rank as the worst in racial disparities in marijuana arrests," Randall Wilson, legal director of ACLU Iowa told newspaper reporters. "We all need to take responsibility-whether as citizens, police on the streets, or administrators."

In some southern states, the arrest rate was 10 to 30 times greater for blacks. In two Alabama counties, 100 percent of those arrested for marijuana possession were black, the ACLU said.

These figures don't gibe with marijuana use between whites and black in the U.S. When it comes to marijuana use, about 14 percent of black people and 12 percent of white people reported in 2010 that they had used the drug during the previous year, according to data that the ACLU obtained from the National Drug Health Survey, a Health and Human Services publication.

Arrest rates for blacks were arrested at a rate of 537 per 100,000 people nationally in 2001. In 2010, their arrest rate rose to 716 per 100,000. The 2001 number for white people was 191 per 100,000 and rose to 192 per 100,000 in 2010, the ACLU said.

What is the reason for these unfair rates? An increase in marijuana possession arrests from 2001 to 2010 is largely attributable to drastic increases in arrests of black people, the ACLU said.

In New York City, the "stop-and-frisk" law allows police to shake down anyone on the street they deem looks suspicious in what is labeled an effort to get illegal guns off the streets, but which, according New York Civil Liberties Union 2012 data, leads more marijuana-related arrests than for any other crime. The same data revealed that 87 percent of those who were interrogated under the law were black or Latino.

Ezekiel Edwards, lead author of the ACLU study, attributed the disparate arrest rates to racial profiling by police seeking to pad their arrest numbers with "low-level" arrests in "certain communities that they have kind of labeled as problematic."

"While this country moves in some ways in a more progressive direction on marijuana policy in a lot of places, in other places, people are getting handcuffed, jailed and getting criminal records at racially disparate rates all around the country," Edwards said.

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