Saturday, November 24, 2012

Marijuana possession does not lead to violence

People arrested for marijuana possession rarely become violent criminals. A report by Human Rights Watch, A Red Herring: Marijuana Arrestees Do Not Become Violent Felons, offers new data indicating that people who enter the criminal justice system with an arrest for public possession of marijuana rarely commit violent crimes in the future.

Over the last 15 years, New York City police have arrested more than 500,000 people on misdemeanor charges of possessing small amounts of marijuana in public view. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the police have said the arrests have helped reduce violent crime.

According to the Human Rights Watch website, Jamie Fellner, senior adviser to the US Program at Human Rights Watch and co-author of the report said, “Our findings support those of other researchers who question the public safety gains from massive marijuana arrests."

Using data provided by the New York Department of Criminal Justice Services, Human Rights Watch tracked until mid-2011 the subsequent criminal records of nearly 30,000 people who had no prior convictions when they were arrested for marijuana possession in public view in 2003 and 2004. Ninety percent of the group had no subsequent felony convictions. Only 3.1 percent were subsequently convicted of one violent felony offense. An additional 0.4 percent had two or more violent felony convictions.

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