It goes without saying that across U.S. history, African Americans have not been treated fairly or equally in our nation. The inequality is less overt today, but it still exists, as the results of a recent American Civil Liberties Union study make clear.
The ACLU study looked at marijuana arrests across the U.S. from 2010 to 2018 and found that in Illinois, African Americans were 7.5 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession despite nearly identical usage rates.
Of course, arrest rates for both white and black in Illinois have dropped dramatically since the 2016 decriminalization and last year’s legalization of marijuana, though it should also be mentioned that arrests of whites has fallen to near zero per 100,000 residents in the state, while the black arrest rate continues to exceed 100 arrests per 100,000 residents.
The larger point is that the disparities – both current and recent – reveal the deep inequality in policing and in the Illinois criminal justice system.
It should be noted as well that the difference in arrest rates was greater in Cook County than across the state from 2010 to 2018. Blacks in Cook County were arrested 10 times more often than whites. The disparity was even worse in DuPage County (10.5 times) and Kane County (12.4).
Only two states fared worse than Illinois: Montana, where African Americans are arrested for marijuana possession 9.6 times more often than whites, and Kentucky, where blacks were arrested 9.4 times more often.
Other studies have shown that African Americans are not only more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, but on more serious drug charges as well. African Americans are also incarcerated at more than five times the rate of whites.
No matter the color of your skin, your ethnicity, gender or religion, the Constitution guarantees that you can be represented by an attorney who will protect your freedom and rights at every step of the legal process. Call the Chicago Law Offices of Darryl A. Goldberg at 773-793-3196 to schedule a safe consultation by phone or electronic means.