Decades of Disparity: Drug Arrests and Race in the United States

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Human Rights Watch, 2009 - Arrest - 17 pages
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Using national drug arrest data from 1980 to 2007, this report illuminates the persistence and extent of racial disparities in the so-called?war on drugs? in the United States. Although blacks and whites engage in drug offenses at roughly comparable rates, blacks have been consistently arrested for drug offenses at rates that are from 2.8 to 5.5 times higher nationwide than white drug arrest rates. In addition, this report reveals that among individual states, black drug arrest rates in a single year, 2006, ranged from 2 to 11.3 times higher than white rates. Finally, the report shows that since 1980, the preponderance of drug arrests have been for possession, not sales. Millions of Americans have acquired a criminal record because they engaged in the minor non-violent offense of drug possession. Human Rights Watch calls on the United States to revise its drug control policies to reduce reliance on criminal prosecution and address these troubling racial disparities.

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