By Chris Hoenig
The War on Drugs is taking a toll on Black Americans, and a new study has revealed just how unjustified a toll it is.
A Brookings Institute analysis of arrest data shows that Black Americans are far more likely to be arrested for drug offenses, even though white Americans are the ones who are more likely to actually sell drugs.
A Bureau of Justice Statistics report found that in raw numbers just as many Black men have served time in jail as white men. But since Blacks only make up about 12 percent of the U.S. population, that made Black men six times more likely than whites to have been imprisoned at some point in their life.
And while the number of Black Americans arrested for violent crimes and property crimes has dropped over the past several decades, the number of Blacks arrested for drug-abuse violations and other drug-related crimes, like possession, has skyrocketed.
When it comes specifically to these drug offenses, Blacks are now nearly four times more likely than whites to be arrested for selling drugs and two-and-a-half times more likely to be arrested for possessing them.
Since Blacks are so much more likely to be arrested for selling and using drugs, surely they use them and sell them more than whites, right Wrong.
Study author Jonathan Rothwell cites surveys and analysis done in the 1980s that shows whites are more likely to sell drugs than Blacks, but that was decades ago. These days Well, the numberswhen compared to arrests, especiallyare staggering.
The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 6.6 percent of young white Americans sold drugs, compared to just 5 percent of Blacks. To put that in perspective, the sample size for the survey included 26,570 whites and 5,914 Blacks, all under the age of 25.
That means 1,754 young whites had sold drugs. Only 296 young Black Americans had. Yet those 296 young Blacks were nearly FOUR TIMES as likely to get arrested as any of the 1,700-plus whites.
When it comes to using drugs, the rates between Blacks and whites are about the same: about 10 percent report having used drugs in the past month. Among college students, about a quarter of whites admit to using, while only 20 percent of Blacks have used in the past month.
Again, in raw numbers, things look vastly different. That’s over 6,600 young whites who have used drugs, but just under 1,200 Blacks. And yet the young Black Americans are more than twice as likely to end up in the back of a cop car for it.
These stats are only another form of proof that the War on Drugs is taking an unjustified toll on the Black community.
After their Stop and Frisk policies were deemed unconstitutional, the NYPD changed tactics. Under the new “Broken Windows” policingwhich targets minor offenses, such as drug possession and distribution, with the idea that it gets criminals off the streets before serious crimes can take placeBlacks and Latinos still face disproportionate arrests when compared to whites.
So is it the War on Drugs Or the War on Black Upward Mobility