Society

Study: More Arrests For Pot Than All Violent Crimes

| by Michael Allen
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The American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch released a study on Oct. 12 that found police arrested more people for marijuana possession in 2015 than all violent crimes combined.

The study, posted on the HRW website, notes there were 505,681 arrests for violent crimes, and more than 574,000 arrests for marijuana possession.

The violent crimes were defined by the FBI standard as "murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault," the study states.

Marijuana possession accounted for almost one-half of all arrests for drug possession, more than 1.25 million, which HRW study co-author Tess Borden broke down for The Washington Post:

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It's been 45 years since the war on drugs was declared, and it hasn't been a success. Rates of drug use are not down. Drug dependency has not stopped. Every 25 seconds, we're arresting someone for drug use.

The study notes "on any given day at least 137,000 men and women are behind bars in the United States for drug possession, some 48,000 of them in state prisons and 89,000 in jails, most of the latter in pretrial detention."

According to the ACLU and HRW study, people with the drug possession criminal records are subsequently locked out of "jobs, housing, education, welfare assistance, voting, and much more."

Their financial burden is often shifted to American taxpayers, many of whom support the drug possession laws.

Author Christian Parenti, who wrote the 1999 book "Lockdown America: Police And Prisons in the Age of Crisis," explained how the war on drugs evolved in a 2005 interview with The November Coalition:

The war on drugs was also a component in the first stage of the crackdown in the 60s, so you get this reengagement with the war on drugs in the 1980s with [President Ronald] Reagan. And then you get another series of federal crime bills and throughout this -- even though most law enforcement is handled at the state level -- the discursive tone was set at the federal government by the federal government through federal programs that rewarded states that would spend money and change laws so as to beef up repression and punish states that did not go along with it by not giving them money.

Sources: Human Rights Watch, The Washington Post, The November Coalition / Photo credit: houstonwiPhots mp/Flickr

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