Get the Facts on Stop and Frisk

• In 1977, New York State decriminalized possession of up to 25 grams of marijuana, making it a non-criminal violation punishable by a $100 fine, like a traffic ticket. Possessing or burning marijuana in public view, however, is a criminal misdemeanor offense – and police are falsely charging people for public view or burning even when the marijuana is concealed.

• In 2011, the NYPD used this loophole to arrest 50,684 people for misdemeanor marijuana possession – making it the number one arrest in NYC.

These arrests…
• violate constitutional rights. Most arrests are based on false charges by police; many are the result of illegal frisks or searches.
• are expensive. They cost NYC taxpayers $75 million in 2011 and more than $600 million over the last decade.
• are racially biased and target young people. Nearly 85% of those arrested are Black and Latino, even though whites use marijuana at higher rates. Nearly 70% of those arrested are young people.

Marijuana, Stop, Question and Frisk, and the Police
Research shows that most people arrested for marijuana possession are not smoking in public, but simply have a small amount in their pocket, purse or bag. Possessing a small amount of marijuana in one’s pocket or bag is a legal violation, not a criminal offense. Sometimes, police illegally search people, find marijuana, and then falsely charge them for marijuana in “public view.” Or, when police stop and question a person, they say “empty your pockets” or “open your bag.” Many people comply, even though they’re not legally required to do so. If a person pulls out marijuana from their pocket, it is then “open to public view,” a crime. The police then arrest the person.
In 2011, the NYPD stopped and questioned over 680,000 people — nearly 90% of them Black and Latino. This new record is 14% higher than 2010. About half of these encounters resulted in a frisk, and only 12% led to a summons or arrest; in less than one percent of the stops was a firearm recovered. A Columbia University professor found at least 30% of stops themselves are likely unconstitutional. Another study from the University of Chicago found that marijuana arrests do not reduce serious or violent crime, and may actually increase it.

*The information above was provided by the Drug Policy Alliance, Center for NuLeadership, and VOCAL-NY.


Where We Are Now, and What the Future Could Hold If We Don’t Act Now
In 2011, 685,724 were stopped by the NYPD, 84% of whom were Black and Latino. Nearly 90% of these stops did not result in any summons or arrest. The numbers for the first quarter of 2012 show yet another record rate of stops—over 203,500 between January and March, an average of 2,200 per day. At the current rate, the NYPD is on track to stop over 730,000 New Yorkers this year—more than 40,000 stops over the record-setting annual stops in 2011. Moreover, the racial disparities and low rates of arrests and summonses – which have become a shameful hallmark of the stop-and-frisk data – continue: 87 percent of those stopped were Black or Latino, yet only 10 percent were arrested or received summonses.

*The above brief above was provided by the

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