New York City Will End Marijuana Arrests for Most People

The New York Police Department will spare many individuals who smoke marijuana in public from getting arrested and can give them a ticket as a substitute, however not if an individual has sure sorts of previous arrests or convictions , Mayor Bill de Blasio mentioned on Tuesday.

The modifications, that are set to take impact on Sept. 1, will transfer New York City one other step nearer to eliminating an unlimited class of arrests that not exists in some states. But for New Yorkers on probation or parole or who’ve open arrest warrants, getting stopped for smoking marijuana will proceed to imply being handcuffed and brought to a police station home for fingerprinting.

The plans had been introduced in East Harlem by Mr. de Blasio and the police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, who in May convened a 30-day working group to overview the difficulty. Around 17,500 persons are arrested annually on marijuana possession costs, however Mr. de Blasio mentioned about 10,000 of these arrests could be eradicated underneath the brand new coverage.

“We’re doing what we can do right now,” Mr. de Blasio mentioned at a information convention.

The announcement got here at some point after the state well being commissioner mentioned a forthcoming report would suggest the legalization of leisure marijuana.

[ Read: New York State Moves Toward Legal Marijuana With Health Dept. Endorsement ]

In current months the town’s rationale for arresting hundreds of individuals a 12 months, most of them black or Hispanic, on marijuana possession costs, has crumbled. Mr. de Blasio vowed final month to “end unnecessary arrests,” solely months after he mentioned the annual arrest rely was “a normal level in the sense of what we were trying to achieve.”

The Police Department, which had defended the arrests as a obligatory response to residents’ complaints about marijuana, conceded that a big class of marijuana arrests had no public security advantages.

Some individuals caught smoking in public shall be given a felony summons as a substitute of being arrested, the mayor mentioned. But others, together with individuals who had been already the almost certainly to face severe penalties for being accused of marijuana possession, will proceed to be arrested.

Among individuals who will nonetheless be arrested are these on probation or parole; these with a misdemeanor or felony arrest warrant; these with out identification; those that have not too long ago been arrested for a violent crime; and people deemed to be endangering the general public by, for instance, smoking within the driver’s seat of a automobile. Police officers can even arrest somebody in the event that they persuade a supervisor that it’s the proper method.

In carving out these exceptions, the town is endorsing a technique by which cops will proceed to arrest some individuals for smoking marijuana, not as a result of officers consider smoking deserves an arrest in and of itself, however as a result of these individuals have a felony historical past.

Black individuals had been arrested on low-level marijuana costs at eight occasions the speed of white individuals in New York City over the previous three years, even supposing authorities surveys have proven that black and white people use marijuana at roughly the same rate.

Some of the classes of people that will nonetheless be arrested for smoking in public are overwhelmingly nonwhite, too. For instance, as of 2007, three-quarters of the individuals on probation in New York City had been black or Hispanic, in comparison with 17 % of probationers who had been white, in line with the most recent publicly available probation profile.

Research has found “there is no good evidence” that marijuana arrests in New York City are related to reductions in severe crime.

The police mentioned in February that the disparity resulted from extra residents in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods calling to complain about marijuana. But a New York Times analysis discovered that amongst neighborhoods the place individuals referred to as about marijuana on the similar charge, the police nearly all the time made arrests at the next charge within the areas with extra black residents.

Criminal summonses for marijuana possession have climbed in New York City and marijuana arrests have fallen since Mr. de Blasio mentioned in late 2014 that the police would largely give summonses instead of making arrests for carrying personal marijuana, and reserve arrests primarily for smoking in public.

Two-thirds of these given felony summonses for marijuana possession final 12 months had been black or Hispanic, and 13 % had been white, with the race of a lot of these ticketed — the overwhelming majority in sure precincts — not laid out in police information, in line with knowledge the Police Department supplied to the City Council.

In the primary 4 months of this 12 months, 80 % of these ticketed for marijuana possession had been black or Hispanic.

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