Marijuana Arrests in Palm Beach County
In Palm Beach County, blacks per capita are arrested for marijuana possession nearly five times the rate of whites, according to a recent survey by the ACLU (source).
Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and West Palm Beach NAACP President Lia Gaines have markedly different responses.
Bradshaw, whose deputies patrol an area that includes half the county population, had an adamant retort to anyone who says they are targeting blacks.
“We don’t care if the person is white, black, yellow or green,” Bradshaw said. “We arrest the people who commit the crimes.”
But Gaines says the numbers tell a different story.
“These numbers should provoke him to do a review,” she says. “He says they are not targeting blacks, but then he should find out why this happens. This is why people in the community don’t have a high regard for law enforcement. There are lives being ruined here.”
The numbers in question come, in part, from a study released last week by the American Civil Liberties Union. The report found that nationwide 46 percent of all drug-related arrests are for marijuana possession – more than 750,000 per year. The report also found that from 2001 to 2010, per capita, blacks are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, even though marijuana use by blacks and whites is about equal. In 2010, 14 percent of blacks and 12 percent of whites said they had used marijuana in the previous year, the ACLU report said.Among persons 18 to 25, more whites than blacks say they have used marijuana.
In Palm Beach County, a comparison by the ACLU of population numbers to marijuana arrests shows that blacks are 4.8 times more likely to be charged with marijuana possession than whites.
Arrest Numbers Nearly Equal
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office patrols areas that contain about half of the county’s 1.35 million residents. Bradshaw confirmed that in 2012, 1,090 blacks and 1,073 whites were charged with either possession or sale of marijuana in those areas. The figures are almost equal, despite the fact that whites outnumber blacks in the PBSO patrol areas more than 3 to 1.
The ACLU report said policing strategies lead law enforcement agencies to place more personnel in low income, minority neighborhoods, leading to more arrests for low level crimes, including marijuana possession. Bradshaw said the ACLU report implied that law enforcement targets blacks. He denied it.
“We respond to complaints,” he said. “We send deputies where crimes are being committed.”
The ACLU report says 62 percent of people arrested for marijuana possession are 24 or younger. The arrests affect those charged in their ability to access public housing, receive student aid and in their employment possibilities, according to the report.
The report also said that in 2010 Florida spent $228 million for police, courts and corrections expenses to deal with those possession cases. All 50 states spent $3.6 billion.
Enforcement of marijuana possession laws has had “a staggeringly disproportionate impact on African-Americans, and comes at a tremendous human and financial cost,” the report says. “The price paid by those arrested and convicted of marijuana possession can be significant and linger for years, if not a lifetime.”
The ACLU report recommends the legalization of possession of marijuana in small amounts for adults. Two states – Colorado and Washington — have in the past year legalized possession for personal use. At least another 13 states decriminalized marijuana possession, meaning it is treated much like traffic ticket, which carries a fine but no criminal charges.
Marijuana Possession – Florida Third Highest in U.S.
In 2010, Florida as a whole had the third-highest number of arrests for marijuana possession of blacks in the nation: 26,711, behind New York and Illinois. A total of 30,895 whites were arrested in Florida that year. That translates into 46.1 percent of marijuana arrests involving blacks while the black population in the state is 13.3 percent.
West Palm Beach Drug Charges Attorney
Many drug crimes in Florida are subject to mandatory minimum prison sentences of at least three years. Even if you are not facing prison time, the arrest can have a profound effect on both you and your family. At the law firm of Andrew D. Stine, P.A., in West Palm Beach, we will take a proactive approach in defending you.
Marijuana Grow Houses
An increasing phenomenon in Florida is the presence of Marijuana grow houses. Garages, abandoned trailers, old houses and sheds are all used to grow and cultivate Marijuana for sale and distribution. People charged with growing Marijuana face mandatory minimum prison sentences of at least three years, fines, and possibly, a felony criminal record.
In Florida, the consequences for growing Marijuana are serious and remain with you in the future. Employers, apartment managers and schools will have access to your criminal record. A good lawyer will be proactive in your defense and work hard to reduce the consequences and penalties of your actions.
The law office of Andrew D. Stine, P.A., is committed to representing those charged with growing marijuana and other drug crimes. We have extensive experience representing clients with drug charges and know what it takes to form an effective defense. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
If you face serious drug charges, lawyer Andrew Stine is experienced in attacking the government’s case against you. Drug cases often involve a confidential informant, who is usually another person who has been arrested on drug charges. By finding out who the confidential informant is—which we can in many cases—we may be able to do away with the state’s case. We can also seek to get drug evidence excluded, if the search and seizure was illegal.
Free consultation 24/7: Call West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer Andrew D. Stine, P.A. at (561) 832-1170. Se habla español.