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Today’s numbers are depressing

Monday, May 19, 2014

* From a new study by Roosevelt University’s Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy

In Illinois, 84% of all marijuana arrests are for misdemeanor possession and these arrests represent a sizable portion of arrests within the state. For example:

    * Three year averages for marijuana misdemeanor arrests from 2010-2013 are over 41,000 per year;
    * In comparison to FBI index crimes, arrests for marijuana misdemeanors were equivalent to 50% of arrests for all index crimes, that is serious and violent crimes;
    * Compared to all drug arrests, marijuana misdemeanor arrests make up 39% of drug arrests – including sales and possession of controlled substances - in the state of Illinois;
    * Of marijuana misdemeanor arrests, 85% of arrests were for possession of cannabis totaling less than 10 grams.

* More…

* In Champaign, 75% of marijuana misdemeanor offenders received a ticket instead of arrest […]

* In Chicago, 93% of misdemeanor marijuana possession violations resulted in an arrest and in only 7% of cases a ticket was issued […]

* Chicago was the only municipality studied with a marijuana arrest rate higher than the state rate, specifically 150% higher than the state average; and more than 230% higher than the U.S. rate

* Context…

* Illinois’s marijuana possession arrest rate is more than 150% higher than the national average;

* Illinois ranked third in the nation for the black to white racial disparity of marijuana possession offenders, despite the fact that marijuana use is the same between these two groups;

* In Illinois, African Americans were about 7.6 times more likely to be arrested than whites;

* Cook County made the most marijuana possession arrests of any county in the nation with
33,068 arrests in 2010 and also had one of the worst racial disparity rates in the nation;

* Illinois’ estimated spending for marijuana possession ranged from $78 million to $364 million
per year on marijuana possession arrests and adjudications.

* Related…

* Study: Despite new law, pot arrests still likelier than fines

* Pot Enforcement ‘Uneven, Unjust,’ Says Roosevelt University Study: Chicago’s 2013 arrests actually increased in some areas, “predominantly minority neighborhoods on the city’s South and West sides.”

* Chicago cops likely to arrest — not ticket — for pot possession

- Posted by Rich Miller        


39 Comments
  1. - Cassandra - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 11:54 am:

    Perhaps there are fewer internal PD incentives for tickets vs. arrests? Sometimes there are management goals in place that the public doesn’t know about which lead to this or that undesirable outcome out on the street. Anyway, the pressure should be on Chicago’s mayor and police chief–what’s really going on here. Given all the complaints about high crime rates and not enough officers, why are so many officers spending valuable time arresting folks for marijuana possession. This is a management problem.


  2. - Hon. John Fritchey - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:06 pm:

    The numbers aren’t just depressing, they’re shameful. There are better ways to deal with the issue and many elected officials don’t realize just how many of their constituents support decriminalization or full-out legalization.


  3. - 47th Ward - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:12 pm:

    Fritchey is working on it. It’s going to take some time, but we’re moving in the right direction finally.


  4. - VanillaMan - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:17 pm:

    Yeah - lets use Champaign as the crime model Chicago should follow. It is like the exact same city, right?

    I remember reading how identical both cities are in crime statistics, demographics, size of population, percentages of minorities - yup - just the other day, I was in Champaign and thought for a second that I was tooling around the Loop!


  5. - vise77 - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:21 pm:

    “Yeah - lets use Champaign as the crime model Chicago should follow. It is like the exact same city, right?”

    So you are OK with Chicago making such arrests, the, instead of tickets? I mean, I tried to find an idea in your rant, but came up short. Please advise.


  6. - CommoNooB - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:28 pm:

    But, but I thought the police officers were only enforcing the law that the lawmakers wrote? Nope, this further proves that when given discretion to cops, they will most likely always come down with the heavy hammer. Its time for illinois to legalize it, already.


  7. - wordslinger - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:32 pm:

    –* In Chicago, 93% of misdemeanor marijuana possession violations resulted in an arrest and in only 7% of cases a ticket was issued […]–

    It’s a disgrace. You’re pulling cops off the streets to process pot busts.

    Why can’t anyone get a handle on this stupidity? Rahm, McCarthy, step up.


  8. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:32 pm:

    Decriminalize? Yes! Legalize? Absolutely not.


  9. - 47th Ward - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:32 pm:

    I ripped CPD on another thread, but here I’ll give them a bit of credit. In the high violence areas of Chicago, they have a zero tolerance policy. If they can arrest you for anything legitimate, they will. This is designed to take as many people off the streets as possible, if only for a few hours.

    So no, young African American or Latino men caught with a joint in certain neighborhoods are not going to get tickets.


  10. - VanillaMan - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:36 pm:

    There are a lot of assumptions being made here based on one’s belief regarding marijuana. I have a problem with the basic comparison between a diddly-squat college town and Chicago.

    No. Champaign and Chicago are not alike. The comparison assumes more than reality should dictate.


  11. - VanillaMan - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:37 pm:

    Thank you 47th for that real world fact.


  12. - Sir Reel - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:41 pm:

    Interesting that the first post is about the budget and revenues, and the second is about pot busts. Yes let’s spend precious public funds on arrests, public attorneys and incarceration. Makes sense.


  13. - VanillaMan - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:42 pm:

    My Chicago Police Sergeant relative would bust a gut laughing over this - or I should say, probably will be soon when he reads this.

    No one is wasting Police time in Chicago looking for pot heads to bust. Calm down.


  14. - wordslinger - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:42 pm:

    –I remember reading how identical both cities are in crime statistics, demographics, size of population, percentages of minorities - yup - just the other day–

    What does any of that have to do with anything? They’re comparing apples to apples — misdemeanor marijuana violations.

    Are some “demographics” and “percentages of minorities” more deserving of arrest rather than a ticket, in your world?


  15. - Rich Miller - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:43 pm:

    ===No one is wasting Police time in Chicago looking for pot heads to bust. Calm down. ===

    Tell that to the 20,000 or so people busted on misdemeanor pot possession there every year.


  16. - VanillaMan - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:51 pm:

    Are some “demographics” and “percentages of minorities” more deserving of arrest rather than a ticket, in your world?

    Nah, just the guys who twist my words and blog here.


  17. - Demoralized - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 12:56 pm:

    @VMan:

    I’m failing to see where comparisons are being made between Chicago and Champaign. I see statistics for both. You are the one trying to tie the two together.


  18. - John A Logan - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:03 pm:

    I finally agree with something that is happening in Chicago.


  19. - Ghost - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:03 pm:

    Some of the disparity here reflects economics. if you have money and contacts, you get a DR to prescribe you oxy or other “legal” drugs to feed your habit. If you do not have those socio economic connections, then you purchase marijunna.

    The targeting of one as legal and the other as illegal is primarily based upon the the pharmacutical companies desire to keep their market exclusive and the prices high (pun alert)

    If marijuanna were legal for all, it can be produced much cheaper then a lot of drugs.

    Its not about good or bad, its about the money and mataining a stanglehold over the sale of legal and highly addictive drugs by keeping out the less adictive and cheap to grow/obtain ones.


  20. - Hon. John Fritchey - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:12 pm:

    Ghost, the sad reality is that heroin is cheaper and easier to obtain than is cannabis. And with respect to arrest rates, “a recent report by the American Civil Liberties Union showing that black people are two to over seven times more likely to be arrested for pot possession than their white counterparts, despite the fact that both groups use marijuana at similar rates.

    These disparities held up even when researchers controlled for household income. It’s about race, not class.”


  21. - Goonhammer - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:23 pm:

    It’s sad that we are putting our citizens in jail over a plant. Does that not seem silly to anyone else, just off the basic principle that police are arresting people over a plant? A plant that two states are making bank off of as our representative tells Ron Sandack he’s “not going to tell him how were going to pay for [the bill]. ” and here we have a gold mine and the agricultural southern States to develop crop.


  22. - Ghost - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:34 pm:

    Judge Fritchey, actually that seem to go with what Vman and 47th are saying as well. targeting certain neighborhoods for selective enforcement as a method of reducing violent crime.

    Seems like the wrong way to reduce violence, heavy handed law enforcement.


  23. - Guzzlepot - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:34 pm:

    I would like to see how many of those arrests were for just marijuana possesion and how many were for marijuana and something else. For instance, a guy gets stopped for speeding and the cop smells MJ in the vehicle and that leads to a DUI arrest. Or the cops arrest someone for a bar fight and find a joint on him. In both cases thr cop and/or prosecutor figure since we are charging him with x, and we have probable cause for the MJ possession, why not charge that as well.

    My guess is that the vast majority of MJ arrests are in conjunction with other more serious crimes.


  24. - Anon - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:37 pm:

    “In Champaign, 75% of marijuana misdemeanor offenders received a ticket instead of arrest […]

    * In Chicago, 93% of misdemeanor marijuana possession violations resulted in an arrest and in only 7% of cases a ticket was issued […]”

    This is a tremendous mismanagement of resources. As if CPD doesnt already have enough to do. Wasting officer time on processing pot busts for minor amounts vs. patrolling neighborhoods with serious gang violence problems?


  25. - 47th Ward - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:38 pm:

    “Judge” Fritchey? LOL.


  26. - Anon - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:41 pm:

    ““a recent report by the American Civil Liberties Union showing that black people are two to over seven times more likely to be arrested for pot possession than their white counterparts, despite the fact that both groups use marijuana at similar rates”

    War on drugs = shadow war against minorities, specifically their right to vote.


  27. - Grandson of Man - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:45 pm:

    “My guess is that the vast majority of MJ arrests are in conjunction with other more serious crimes.”

    I was wondering this. How many misdemeanor marijuana arrests involve other crimes?

    “and here we have a gold mine”

    Illinois’ population is more than twice as large as Colorado’s, so the prospect is very good for the economy and tax revenue.

    When people are arrested in Chicago or Cook County for misdemeanor marijuana possession, I read that almost all of the cases are dismissed or result in no convictions. We can add that to the failed marijuana war–going through all the time, money and trouble to arrest people for naught.


  28. - Hon. John Fritchey - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:49 pm:

    47th Ward, I’ve been called soooo much worse.


  29. - Hon. John Fritchey - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 1:50 pm:

    Guzzlepot, my understanding is that these numbers are the standalone arrests, unassociated with other violations. I’ll double-check.


  30. - Ahoy! - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 2:05 pm:

    Maybe we should stop arresting people for marijuana possession. Or in other words, maybe we should stop spending so much money on arresting people for marijuana possession. There is a lot of economic and social costs to all this.


  31. - Walker - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 2:56 pm:

    And some people defend using “ever arrested” as part of an employment screener.


  32. - dan linn - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 3:07 pm:

    The solution is to legalize and regulate the adult cannabis market. Punish those who use cannabis and endanger or harm others but let responsible adults grow and consume this plant once again. To point out the racial disparities, which require an urgent response, only to call for a study of legalization or statewide/uniform decriminalization seems to undermine the very real and immediate consequences of this failed policy. Take 2 or 3 years to study legalization while 15K are arrested each year in Chicago still yields many more plaguing arrest records and you still need to change the policy once the study results show what we already know, specifically that prohibition doesn’t work.


  33. - Precinct Captain - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 3:27 pm:

    You’re rarely going to get a pot ticket in Chicago b/c according the FOP it takes longer to write a ticket than book an arrest. Translated from BS: we’re not ready to quit being racists.

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/crime/23331575-418/one-year-after-decriminalization-pot-tickets-a-bust.html#.U3ppA_ldWSo


  34. - Precinct Captain - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 3:28 pm:

    ==Champaign and Chicago are not alike.==

    More alike than you think if you bothered to dig into the statistics and the neighborhoods and their backgrounds.


  35. - Grandson of Man - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 3:38 pm:

    “let responsible adults grow and consume this plant”

    Yes, I strongly agree. It would grow business also: garden supplies, indoor grow lights, hydroponic/aeroponic systems, special soils, fertilizers, growing chambers, etc.

    “many more plaguing arrest records”

    People whose intentions are to responsibly consume marijuana should not suffer this, nor should they suffer any more societal harm than those who use alcohol. We should learn the lesson of alcohol prohibition and legalize pot.


  36. - dupage dan - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 4:18 pm:

    So, PC, I guess the cops in Champaign got more time on their hands for writing those tickets? And that proves racism? Huh?


  37. - wordslinger - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 4:50 pm:

    –And some people defend using “ever arrested” as part of an employment screener.=–

    No kidding. Another disgrace.


  38. - wordslinger - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 4:56 pm:

    –Are some “demographics” and “percentages of minorities” more deserving of arrest rather than a ticket, in your world?
    Nah, just the guys who twist my words and blog here-/–

    VMan, you must have meant something when you brought up “demographics” and “percentages of minorities” to explain the differences between arrests and tickets.

    Feel free to enlighten at any time.


  39. - Hon. John Fritchey - Monday, May 19, 14 @ 8:05 pm:

    Guzzlepot, I checked and the numbers reflect arrests where the misdemeanor pot arrest was the most serious charge. Given how minor a charge that is, even if there were another charge that went along with it, it would have had to have been pretty minor indeed.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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