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White People Get Tickets, Black People Get Arrested for Cannabis Possession in Miami

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Marijuana possession is a ticketable offense in Miami, Florida, but local police still insist on arresting people for it. In fact, arrest rates for misdemeanor cannabis possession of under 20 grams is on the rise in Miami.

In 2018 there were 2,107 people arrested for the minor crime — that’s 78 more arrests than in 2017, and 335 more than were made in 2016. And this is all despite the fact that Miami-Dade commissioners have approved a measure to let police simply issue tickets for misdemeanor crimes, such as the possession of less than 20 grams of pot.

What’s even more frustrating is that misdemeanor marijuana arrests are usually dismissed by state prosecutors. That means police are going out of their way to do significantly more work — and spend a lot more tax dollars—than necessary to put an arrest on someone’s record. And those arrests can mean difficulties in getting jobs and housing down the line for these people.

And there’s a striking disparity between the people who typically get tickets and those who get handcuffed. More than 70 percent of citations are given to white folks, while pretty much everyone else gets arrested.

Compounding this issue is the fact that the number of reported crimes that are actually being solved (sometimes called clearance rates) has fallen in Miami. The Florida Department of Law has stated that the Miami-Dade clearance rate is 15.4 percent while that state average is 20.

So instead of wasting time arresting people for crimes that are just going to be dismissed anyway, Miami police should focus on the almost 85 percent of crimes they’re failing to solve.

h/​t Miami New Times

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