The Hennepin County public defender’s office found in a study of the police marijuana sales’ four-month sting to reduce crime that the low-level targets were almost all Black. A call to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who then called the city’s first Black police chief, Medaria Arradondo, stopped it within a week.
The report exposed that “officers had directly asked Black men to facilitate drug deals with other Black men, and then [were] arresting and booking the sellers and submitting the cases for felony charging.”
Arradondo and Frey’s decision to stop the stings was followed by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office saying it had dismissed charges against 31 people arrested, and potentially will dismiss the remaining 16, for many arrests had led to convictions resulting in prison time and even some deportation proceedings.
Now, some don’t have to stay in jail they can go home. But according to Hennepin County Chief Public Defender Mary Moriarty, who reported the initial sting data, this isn’t finished.
She hopes the way to truly undo the mess is fixing the long-term effects on these individuals. She wants prosecutors to join motions to expunge the arrests and charges: “Even though the cases are dismissed, having an arrest and charge on their records will create problems for employment and rental housing.”
In the current national debate over prison and sentencing reform, studies show the long-term effects on people in the system, especially Blacks, are drastic. Long prison sentences increase mass incarceration and impact the economic recovery of minorities. Research also shows that Black people are still much more likely to be arrested for pot in comparison to white people.
Frey’s statement: “I believe strongly that marijuana should be a lowest-level enforcement priority The fact that racial disparities are so common nationwide in the enforcement of marijuana laws is one of the reasons I support full legalization.”