We live in a country where we hope that people who break the law go to jail. Being that we have an intricate court system that is designed to make sure that happens, we hope that it is able to determine how severe ones punishment should be. I decided to do some research on criminal convictions for weed specifically the racial disparities that are shown. As I was researching I learned some information that I thought was very interesting such as, “Reviews of the sentencing literature on race effects conclude that on average, black and Hispanic defendants are more likely to be sentenced to prison or jail than whites and somewhat more likely to receive longer prison sentences” (Feldmeyer et al. 2015; Harris et al. 2009; Spohn 2000). This quote pretty much explains minorities have a better chance of receiving a more severe punishment. The thing that bothers me about this fact is what the effect of a criminal record does to someones life. A criminal record could ruin someones career aspiration, or even stop someone from getting a job. An even worse scenario involves a parent losing their child to social services. I feel there are certain convictions when pertaining to weed that happen due to racial bias, or racism. That is why I have decided to do a research paper on this topic, because I feel this racism and racial disparities now more than ever must be brought to the light.
For the most part when it came to weed there was not much restrictions on the use of weed as said, “For the most part the growth, use, and sale of marijuana was not restricted. “The United States did not begin the process of addressing illicit substance use and sales with law until 1914, and, even then, early substance regulation was largely civil in nature and focused on importation and sales rather than on individual use.” (Ahrens 1.) Somehow people started to assume that only minorities dealt with weed, which led to strict laws being passed at attempts to arrested more minorities. If you would like more information on this history you can visit this like,
San Jose State University Library
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There was then a law passed in 2011 that was suppose to help bridge the gap in racial disparities when it came to arrests for weed. The law made being caught with the possession of weed from a felony to a misdemeanor. They assume it would help bridge the gap but in reality it did no such thing. It might have lower all arrests for weed as a whole, but the ratio of arrest minority to white was still ridiculous. If you want more information on proposition 47 and the statistics please visit this link.
Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Arrests for Drug Possession After California Proposition 47, 2011-2016
Alyssa C. Mooney, MPH, Eric Giannella, PhD, M. Maria Glymour, ScD, MS, Torsten B. Neilands, PhD, Meghan D. Morris, PhD…
This is as much research as I've gotten through so far, but I can tell their is so much more that needs to be learned about this topic. I hope you guys were able to see the same problems I do, hopefully we can someone address them on the national stage and get some real change.