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California: Marijuana Enforcement Nearly 4 Times More Severe For Blacks

BlacksTargetedForMarijuanaArrests[ACLU].jpg

Black and Latino Boys and Young Men at Particular Risk, Despite Similar Marijuana Use Rates Across Racial Lines

California to Vote on Removing Criminal Penalties and Legal Regulation of Marijuana This November

New data analyses conducted by the Drug Policy Alliance and ACLU of California find that racial disparities in marijuana policing have persisted, following the reduction of low-level marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction in 2011.

Possession of under an ounce of marijuana is punishable in California by a base fine up to $100 (plus substantial fees).

Despite marijuana usage rates being similar across racial and ethnic lines, data provided by the Los Angeles and Fresno Police Departments show that black and Latino people in those cities were issued marijuana possession citations at higher rates than white people in the years immediately following the penalty change from misdemeanor to infraction.

The data also reveal that marijuana possession enforcement falls mostly on young people. In both cities, the majority of infractions were issued to persons 29 years of age and younger.

New York: NYC Marijuana Possession Arrests Drop Under 17K; First Time Since '96

NewYorkWallStreetBroadStreetMarijuana

67% Drop from 51,000 Arrests in 2011

Still A Tale of Two Cities: Young Black and Latino People Arrested at Higher Rates, Despite Young White People Using Marijuana at Higher Rates

According to data just released by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, New York City marijuana arrests in 2015 dropped to under 17,000 for the first time since 1996. The 16,590 arrests for low-level marijuana possession in 2015 is a 42 percent decline from the 26,386 in 2014 and a 67 percent drop from the nearly 51,000 arrests in 2011.

“New York is finally starting to shed its embarrassing distinction of being the marijuana arrest capital of the world,” said Kassandra Frederique, New York state director at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Over the last twenty years, more than 700,000 lives were irrevocably harmed by our draconian marijuana arrest policies. We must repair the harms of marijuana prohibition and end the biased policing practices that have ruined the lives of so many young Black and Latino New Yorkers.”

In 2015, with the continuous advocacy of community members, advocates, and elected officials – the New York Police Department made 16,590 arrests for low level marijuana possession, down from a high of 26,386 in 2014. This continues a four year trend of declining marijuana possession arrest by the NYPD.

U.S.: Drug Policy Alliance Celebrates Latino Drug Policy Reformers

AnaYanez-Correa[DPA]

This week, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) will launch a month-long online tribute to Latino drug policy reformers. As the nation reflects upon the history, cultures and contributions of Latinos in the U.S., DPA recognizes the significant and far-reaching roles that Latino activists, communities, advocates and movement builders have played and continue to play in ending the war on drugs.

The drug war has had a devastating impact on Latino and Latin American communities – fueling mass incarceration, widespread detention and deportation, border militarization, racial profiling, and rampant crime, corruption and violence. Latinos make up 17 percent of the U.S. population, and use and sell drugs at similar rates as other people in the U.S. Yet Latinos comprise 20 percent of people in state prisons for drug offenses, 37 percent of people in federal prisons for drug offenses, and almost half (47 percent) of all cases in federal courts for drug offenses. Roughly 40,000 people (overwhelmingly Latinos) are deported every year for nonviolent drug offenses.

Against this backdrop, many Latino activists and communities are fighting back – and have been for years. From criminal justice reform advocates and groups most affected by failed drug policies to on-the-ground harm reduction activists, DPA acknowledges the profound and transformative contributions and sacrifices of this distinguished list of drug policy reformers who struggle to end the drug war in their communities – and all communities.

California: Groundbreaking Report Says Drug War Drives Mass Deportation

MarijuanaDeportation[SanDiegoFreePress]

Report Recommends Sweeping Reforms, Including Decriminalizing All Drugs

Momentum for Reform Accelerates as California Introduces Bills to Aid Non-Citizen Defendants Arrested for Drug Possession

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday released a first-of-its-kind report showing that tens of thousands of people are deported from the United States each year for minor drug law violations.

The report, "A Price Too High: U.S. Families Torn Apart by Deportations for Drug Offenses," documents how deportations of non-citizens for minor drug possession offenses have spiked in recent years, increasing by 43 percent from 2007 to 2012. In total, more than a quarter of a million people (roughly 266,000) have been deported for drug offenses since 2007, most commonly for minor drug possession offenses.

Under current immigration laws that focus on targeting “threats to public safety and national security,” decades-old offenses and/or pardoned drug convictions can lead to mandatory detention and deportation. However, Human Rights Watch found that most non-citizens deported for criminal convictions had only committed minor, nonviolent offenses.

The damning new report provides another example of how the war on drugs has become a war against migrant communities, fueling racism, violence, and the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border. Roughly 40,000 people (or more) have been deported every year since 2008 due to drug law violations.

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