By "Radical" Russ Belville
The Village Voice has an amazing piece up about New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s new “Young Men’s Initiative”. As Bloomberg finishes his term, this $127 million program will,according to the report, address some of the depressing statistics found among the Big Apple’s young black males:
In New York City, young men of color are suspended, designated to special education, arrested and incarcerated at significantly higher rates than any other group. The barriers to obtain work and housing because of criminal records make it extremely difficult to re-enter into society and can limit young men of color to a cycle of instability and illegal employment.
Gee, what could be leading to all those arrests and incarceration of young black males in New York City? As we’ve reported numerous times, it is that New York City is the marijuana arrest capital of the world, with over 50,000 arrests for possession alone. Village Voice notes this as well:
Consider that, according to a study by Professor Harry Levine of Queens College, Giuliani “only” averaged arresting 24,487 people a year for marijuana. By 2008, Bloomberg was averaging 36,069 pot arrests annually.
In 2010, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, he arrested 50,383 people—”more than capacity seating in Yankee Stadium.”
In 2011, he’s on track to arrest more than 60,000 by year’s end.
There are more white folks in NYC and they use marijuana more often than Hispanics and Blacks. You wouldn't know that by these arrest statistics.
New York is a “decriminalization state” where possession of personal amounts of marijuana is a non-arrestable, ticketable offense. But New York City police are trained to tell young black men “if you show me what you’re holding it will go easier on you”, leading the possessor to take out their bag o’ weed. That is a different crime, “use or possession of marijuana in public view”, a misdemeanor which gives the cops the latitude to cuff and stuff the possessor and send them to an overnight stay in a jail cell. Or the cops forgo the part about asking and just stop-and-frisk young men and take the marijuana right out of their pockets.
However, when you look at the 24-page report, you will not find the words “drugs”, “marijuana”, or “stop-and-frisk”, the very reasons so many of these young men of color are getting the criminal records that force them into second-class citizenship. Apparently, the goal is to help these young men after they get their “drug criminal” status. While the report recommends that the city government should “Connect more young men of color to employment by reducing the barriers they may experience in obtaining work”, it also suggests we “Reform the juvenile and criminal justice systems so that our interventions produce young people prepared for second chances and not to return to jail”. In other words, let’s continue to keep disproportionately busting the young men of color for weed, but let’s ease up on not hiring them for the minimum wage jobs.
This is nothing more than Bloomberg trying to, ahem, whitewash his miserable legacy as the greatest jailer of young blacks and Latinos in the world.