By Shepard Ambellas
March 20, 2013
NEW YORK — In what can be defined as nothing other than a big waste of US tax monies, the New York Police Department (NYPD) has spent over 1 million man hours in the last decade to arrest over 440,000 people for marijuana possession.
The document released on DrugPolicy.org reads;
In our ongoing research about marijuana possession arrests in New York, we have found that a basic misdemeanor arrest for marijuana possession in New York City varied from a minimum of two or three hours for one officer, to four or five hours or even longer for multiple officers. During this time the officers returned to the police station with the handcuffed arrestees and booked them; they took photographs and fingerprints, gathered other information and wrote it up. They sent the personal data to be checked against the state’s criminal databases and often waited to receive the arrestees criminal records, if the database searches found any. Arresting officers regularly took suspects to the central booking jail, were interviewed by assistant district attorneys, and appeared in court.
We used two and a half hours as a minimum average amount of time one officer spends making a marijuana possession arrest. This is a very conservative estimate. We multiplied 2.5 hours by the number of lowest‐level marijuana possession arrests (charged under NYS Penal Law 221.10) for each year since 2002 when Mayor Bloomberg took office.
The front cover of this report shows a graph with the number of marijuana arrests for each year from 2002 through 2012. In those eleven years the NYPD made a total of 439,056 possession‐ only arrests. Multiplied by two and a half hours of police time per arrest that equals 1,097,640 hours – or approximately one million hours of police officer time to make 440,000 marijuana possession arrests. That is the equivalent of having 31 police officers working eight hours a day, 365 days a year, for 11 years, making only marijuana possession arrests.
To top it all off the NYPD has made arrestees spend a total of 5 million hours in police custody over the past 10 years. The report states, “Professionals in the criminal justice system report that most people arrested spend up to 24 hours in custody. We took the conservative figure of 12 hours to construct the following graph. For the years 2002 through 2012, at an average detention of only 12 hours per arrest (almost certainly low), the people the NYPD arrested spent over five million hours in custody. At 18 hours for an arrest, that equals nearly eight million hours in police custody for the mostly black and Latino young people arrested. “
The next question one must ask is, who benefits?
The reality is that most prisons and correctional facilities in America are privately owned which means a private corporation and or select individuals are profiteering from your tax dollars. Often this is by way of ‘no bid contracts’. Even members of our government such as Dick Cheney have been implicated in such schemes.
Brett Chamberlin writes;
Two of the largest private prison providers, GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America, operate 126 prisons in the U.S.. In 2010, they hauled in over $2.9 billion in revenue.
That money was used to assure a constant stream of prisoners to fill cells.
Some went through tried-and-true channels for influencing government policy, like campaign contributions and lobbying. According to a report by the Justice Police Institute [PDF], private prison groups donated $6 million to state candidates and spent nearly a million dollars on federal lobbying. That money was targeted to keep sentences high and fight the marijuana decriminalization movement.
Some funds went to more nefarious methods of keeping prisons packed and profitable. In 2011, a Pennsylvania judge was sentenced to over 17 years in federal prison for his role in a “cash for kids” scandal. Judge Michael Conahan admitted to charges of racketeering for accepting shares and cash from owners of a local for-profit prison. In return, the judge had closed the local county-owned juvenile detention center and started routing young offenders to the private prison, often for minor infractions.
It is clear that marijuana arrests are being used by the men behind the curtain to line their pockets and have been for decades. However, will this police state and fascist style profiteering trend continue?
Recently states have passed law legalizing the use of marijuana as the federal government (Obama) announced that he would not be going after marijuana users in states that have passed laws legalizing it at this time. But do rest assured the option is on the table.
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