Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson vowed to stop prosecuting low-level marijuana possession, and although NYPD Commissioner William Bratton is still not on board with the decision – saying, “It will not have any impact on our officers” – steps towards cutting back on prison space that is now dominated by minority inmates will soon be on the decline.
It was reported that more than 86 percent of those charged with marijuana possession in the state last year were black or Latino, while other studies suggest those ethnic are in fact not the most likely consumer of the drug.
Since 2010, the city has averaged 30,000 to 50,000 arrests for marijuana every year. And much like the figures for the entire state, between 2002 to 2012 nearly 87 percent of those arrested in New York City were also black or Latino.
On the state level, an amendment to the bill known as the Fairness and Equity Act, currently in the state legislature, seemingly confirms the Brooklyn DA is ahead of the curve. The amendment proposes decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of pot to a fine comparable to a parking ticket.
Decriminalizing marijuana in Brooklyn may be the first step to changing the racially skewed face of our prison system by only putting those who truly are a menace to society behind bars.