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Legal Review: New Report Reveals Alarming Racial Disparities in Virginia Marijuana Arrests

by PoP Sponsor June 14, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

Nicholas Braswell is a former public defender now in private practice as a criminal and DUI defense attorney in Richmond, VA.

A recent statistical analysis of marijuana arrests in the state reveals racial disparities in marijuana arrests in Virginia.

Data was collected from state and local law enforcement agencies for arrests which took place between 2010 through 2016. In all, there were over 160,000 arrests made.

The data revealed that blacks were three times more likely to be arrested on marijuana charges as whites. In one county, that number spiked to six times more likely.

Hanover County has 88,000 white residents and 9,600 black residents. The average number of whites arrested each year for marijuana possession is 246. That means for every 100,000 white residents, 280 are arrested.

The average number of blacks arrested each year for marijuana possession is 171. That means for every 100,000 black residents, 1,779 are arrested.

Other Virginia counties fared no better. The breakdown of marijuana possession arrests for every 100,000 white and black residents was as follows:

  • Arlington County – 145 out of every 100,000 white residents and 1,173 out of every 100,000 black residents;
  • Chesapeake County – 233 out of every 100,000 white residents and 1,003 out of every 100,000 black residents;
  • Chesterfield County – 322 out of every 100,000 white residents and 1,070 out of every 100,000 black residents;
  • Fairfax County – 265 out of every 100,000 white residents and 861 out of every 100,000 black residents;
  • Henrico County – 123 out of every 100,000 white residents and 450 out of every 100,000 black residents;
  • Loudoun County – 163 out of every 100,000 white residents and 459 out of every 100,000 black residents;
  • Norfolk County – 96 out of every 100,000 white residents and 447 out of every 100,000 black residents;
  • Prince William County – 306 out of every 100,000 white residents and 637 out of every 100,000 black residents;
  • Richmond County – 345 out of every 100,000 white residents and 491 out of every 100,000 black residents;
  • Virginia Beach County – 91 out of every 100,000 white residents and 435 out of every 100,000 black residents;

Some law enforcement denied that the disparity in numbers has anything to do with racial factors, instead pointing to Virginia being part of the “drug corridor” running from New York to Florida, but civil right advocates disagree and say this is just another example of how widespread the problem is.

Upon learning of the new report, defense attorney Nicholas Braswell commented, “This report just emphasizes the reality for Virginia and the rest of the country that a racial disparity in our criminal justice system truly exists and that we need to address that instead of denying it.”

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