By IAN URBINA
WASHINGTON — Black Americans were nearly four times as likely than whites to be arrested on charges of marijuana possession in 2010, even though the two groups used the drug at similar rates, according to new federal data.
This disparity had grown steadily from a decade before, and in some states, including Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois, blacks were around eight times as likely to be arrested.
The four that are off in a class by themselves for biggest black to white marijuana arrest ratio are Wisconsin, Illinois, D.C., and Iowa. What kind of racist Red State conspiracy is this?
The new data, however, offers a more nuanced picture of marijuana enforcement on the state level. Drawn from police records from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the report is the most comprehensive review of marijuana arrests by race and by county and is part of a report being released this week by the American Civil Liberties Union. Much of the data was also independently reviewed for The New York Times by researchers at Stanford University.
And, apparently, none of these savants figured out how it works.
“We found that in virtually every county in the country, police have wasted taxpayer money enforcing marijuana laws in a racially biased manner,” said Ezekiel Edwards, the director of the A.C.L.U.’s Criminal Law Reform Project and the lead author of the report.
"Virtually every" one of the 3007 counties in America are "racially biased." That just proves how deep-rooted this racism is. Think of all the meetings it must take to organize a conspiracy in 3000 different counties!
... Researchers said the growing racial disparities in marijuana arrests were especially striking because they were so consistent even across counties with large or small minority populations.
This conspiracy goes all the way to the top! (Or bottom. It's hard to say.)
The A.C.L.U. report said that one possible reason that the racial disparity in arrests remained despite shifting state policies toward the drug is that police practices are slow to change. Federal programs like the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program continue to provide incentives for racial profiling, the report said, by including arrest numbers in its performance measures when distributing hundreds of millions of dollars to local law enforcement each year.
Phillip Atiba Goff, a psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that police departments, partly driven by a desire to increase their drug arrest statistics, can concentrate on minority or poorer neighborhoods to meet numerical goals, focusing on low-level offenses that are easier, quicker and cheaper than investigating serious felony crimes.
As we all know from watching Law & Order, serious felony crimes are concentrated on Park Avenue.
“Whenever federal funding agencies encourage law enforcement to meet numerical arrest goals instead of public safety goals, it will likely promote stereotype-based policing and we can expect these sorts of racial gaps,” Professor Goff said.
For instance, the racial gap in the highly liberal, black-dominated District of Columbia was found to be off the charts. In D.C., a black person is 56 times more likely than a white person to be in prison. The next-largest racial disparities were found in liberal mainstays Minnesota (a 31-times higher rate of blacks being in prison) and Wisconsin (22 times higher), followed by New Jersey, Iowa, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Illinois. All of these states voted for Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore in 2000. ...
The smallest difference in the black-to-white imprisonment rate was found in liberal Hawaii (only 2.9 to 1). This may have something to do with many members of Hawaii's small African-American community being active or retired members of the U.S. armed forces.
After Hawaii, though, the next 10 states closest to black-white racial equality in imprisonment rates were all Southern or Western states that voted for George W. Bush. For example, highly conservative Mississippi and South Carolina each imprisoned blacks only six times more often than whites per person, compared to the national average of nine times more often.
Eighteen of the 20 states with the least disparity between blacks and whites voted for Bush in 2000. These below-average racial ratios are driven in part by the tendency of whites in Republican states to get themselves thrown in prison more often than whites in Democratic states. The highest white imprisonment rates tend to be in old frontier states of the Wild West.
The most often locked up whites are in Alaska, followed by Oklahoma, Nevada, Arizona and Texas.
Lots of good additional explanations in the comments.