A Drug Arrest Every 19 Seconds, Says Latest US Data [FEATURE]

More than 1.6 million people were arrested for drug offenses in the US last year, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report 2010, and more than half of them were for marijuana. That's a drug arrest every 19 seconds, 24 hours a day, every day last year. The numbers suggest that despite "no more war on drugs" rhetoric emanating from Washington, the drug war juggernaut is rolling along on cruise control.

Overall, 1,638,846 were arrested on drug charges in 2010, up very slightly from the 1,633,582 arrested in 2009. But while the number of drug arrests appears to be stabilizing, they are stabilizing at historically high levels. Overall drug arrests are up 8.3% from a decade ago.

Marijuana arrests last year stood at 853,838, down very slightly from 2009's 858,408. But for the second year in a row, pot busts accounted for more arrests than  all other drugs combined, constituting 52% of all drug arrests in 2010. Nearly eight million people have been arrested on pot charges since 2000.

The vast majority (88%) off marijuana arrests were for simple possession, with more than three-quarters of a million (750,591) busted in small-time arrests. Another 103,247 people were charged with sale or manufacture, a category that includes everything from massive marijuana smuggling operations to persons growing a single plant in their bedroom closets.

The stabilization of drug arrests at record high levels comes as the FBI reports all other categories of crime are dropping. Violent crime was down overall, with murder decreasing by 4.2% and robberies by 10.0%, while property crime was also down overall, with burglary and larceny declining by more than 2% and motor vehicle theft and arson down by more than 7%.

Drug arrests were the single largest category of arrests, accounting for more than 10% of all arrests in the country. They were followed by drunk driving arrests (1.41 million) and larceny arrests (1.27 million). More than three times as many people were arrested for drugs than for all violent crimes combined (552,000) and nearly as many as for all property crimes combined (1.643 million).

African-Americans continue to be arrested for drug offenses in disproportionate numbers. Blacks accounted for 31.8% of all drug arrests last year, while according to the US Census Bureau, they constitute only 12.6% of the national population.

[Visit the Drug War Facts Crime section for updated tables presenting arrest data from 1980 through the present.]

The high drug arrest numbers were grist for the mill for drug war critics.

"This shows that, contrary to what Obama and Kerlikowske say, the war on drugs is not over," said Bill Piper, national affairs director for the Drug Policy Alliance. While conceding that the vast majority of drug arrests are conducted by state and local law enforcement, "the Obama administration sets the tone," he argued. "Kerlikowske said he ended the war on drugs—not the federal war on drugs—but federal money absolutely subsidizes state and local drug arrests by funding programs like the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program and the COPS program. They are supposed to be setting national policy, but they're not doing a very good job of leading by example."

"Since the declaration of the 'war on drugs' 40 years ago we've arrested tens of millions of people in an effort to reduce drug use," noted Neill Franklin, a retired Baltimore narcotics cop who now heads the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). "The fact that cops had to spend time arresting another 1.6 million of our fellow citizens last year shows that it simply hasn't worked. In the current economy we simply cannot afford to keep arresting three people every minute in the failed 'war on drugs. If we legalized and taxed drugs, we could not only create new revenue in addition to the money we'd save from ending the cruel policy of arresting users, but we'd make society safer by bankrupting the cartels and gangs who control the currently illegal marketplace."

While national drug reform groups had harsh words for the policies leading to the overall drug arrest figures, marijuana reformers were equally critical when it came to the herb and the arrests it generates.

"Today, as in past years, the so-called 'drug war' remains fueled by the arrests of minor marijuana possession offenders, a disproportionate percentage of whom are ethnic minorities," said NORML deputy director Paul Armentano. "It makes no sense to continue to waste law enforcements' time and taxpayers' dollars to arrest and prosecute Americans for their use of a substance that poses far fewer health risks than alcohol or tobacco."

"It's pretty obvious that we continue to spend billions a year arresting nearly a million people for marijuana related crime, yet use had not fallen dramatically," said Morgan Fox, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "That shows that this is just a waste of time and money. It's really disingenuous for the Obama administration and the drug czar to say they are concentrating on public health measures and harm reduction and moving away from law enforcement, and then release numbers that show that was not the case, that the arrest rates are staying the same."

Fox noted that pot arrests accounted for 5.7% of all arrests nationwide. "If the drug czar says we can't arrest our way out of the drug problem, then why are we spending one-twentieth of our law enforcement resources arresting people for nonviolent, victimless crimes?" he asked. "We could be using those resources for solving rapes and murders."

More than a decade of drug reform efforts have managed to slow what once seemed to be endless annual increases in drug arrests in the US, but stabilizing at around 1.6 million drug busts a year is not victory, only the first step in putting the brakes on the drug war juggernaut. Now, it's time to start concentrating on bringing it to a screeching halt.

Washington, DC
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Keeping Private Prisons FULL

Arresting non-violent drug offenders and put them in prison...

They won't be any trouble, not like murders, rapists, child molesters etc etc...

And they are easy to catch, they are STONED...

Welcome to the Right Wing Neo Fascist State of AmeriKKKa, coming to a country near you soon..

 

Or it's already there...

it's a setup

the whole thing is a setup they bring in even manufacture alot of the drugs get a good portion of the population using them and bring down arrests on all the lower and mid level users and dealers.

That 10% second hand smoke statistic

is a bald faced lie.

What Has NORML Actually Done

Hello,

I'm a 50 year old man who is a productive member of society. I enjoy using marijuana, even though I have not used it in quite awhile. I have used marijuana many times wihout incident. I do it in the privacy of my own home and only used domestic product. I remember hearing about NORML long ago and I thought 'cool acronym'. Could never understand why the leaf was considered the symbol and still don't. I use buds and consider a good bud a much better symbol. Anyway, since it's inception what has NORML done for me? Seriously, if not here would there be house to house searches? Would general marijuana use be illegal? Would medical marijuana be accepted by federal lawmakers? Would marijuana be a Scheduke I drug? I mean what have they actually done? As the guy on the street I would have to say I do not see any benefit from this organization. Could someone do a timeline as to what NORML has done to legalize marijuana? I just don't see it and I am big time anti-prohibition.

 

" The government's line is that the use of marihuana leads to more dangerous drugs. The fact is that the lack of marihuana leads to dangerous drugs." - Dr. David Smith, Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic

Please vote Ron Paul, he

Please vote Ron Paul, he wants to repeal the war on drugs! The fact that there are so many arrests for drugs is showing that obviously it is not working!

Mature people don't need a prohibition

they have the capability to say yes or no. People have to fight for the recognition of the adulthood, because the president, the police, the legislators are not their parents, are their equals working for the government. If those who carry a gun consider themselves the parents of the others or the boss of everybody they are out of reality.

Yup

Yup.  And government's goal is to get it down to one arrest every second.  That, to them, is real progress.

Petition your government

Please take a moment to follow this link and sign the petition which requests that all those arrested for marijuana only related offenses to be granted a full pardon. In addition to releaseing those currently incarcerated, this would also reinstate the rights lost by those with previous convictions, such as the right to vote. Here's the link: http://wh.gov/gRZ. Thanks for your support.

Petition your government

Please take a moment to follow this link and sign the petition which requests that all those arrested for marijuana only related offenses to be granted a full pardon. In addition to releaseing those currently incarcerated, this would also reinstate the rights lost by those with previous convictions, such as the right to vote. Here's the link: http://wh.gov/gRZ. Thanks for your support.

3 Words

Collapse. Can't wait!

More of you, ...Petition your government

I'm sad to say that the Petition to Grant a Full Pardon to all those arrested for marijuana only related offenses isn't getting the attention it deserves.  While I've seen a dramatic flux of people rushing to sign the Regulate and Tax in a Manner similar to Alcohol petition (and am very happy to see the number rise greatly every time I look in on it), I'd like to see more people standing up for the folks who have put there lives and liberty on the line for the cause. After all, SOMEONE HAD TO GROW THAT BEAUTIFUL HERB YOU'RE ENJOYING AND NOW THEY NEED US.  To those of you who have taken the time to add your name, I'm very grateful.  Thank you for understanding you you have a civic duty and doing that duty in true patriotic fashion.  For those of you still sitting on your hands I'd like to remind you that NEVER in the history of our nation has it been so SIMPLE and EASY to make your voice heard.  So stand up and take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity.

Repost:

Please take a moment to follow this link and sign the petition which requests that all those arrested for marijuana only related offenses to be granted a full pardon. In addition to releaseing those currently incarcerated, this would also reinstate the rights lost by those with previous convictions, such as the right to vote. Here's the link: http://wh.gov/gRZ. Thanks for your support.

 

In addition, there is also a petition on the WhiteHouse.gov site which calls to Allow Industrial Hemp to AGAIN be grown in the U.S.  This, too, is a very important issue within the legalization movement and approaches the subject from a perspective entirely separate from the medical/recreational aspect.  Please also take a moment to add your name to show your support.

Again, thank you for standing up and doing your part.  After all, a government of the people, for the people, and by the people only works if the people work it.  Signing a petition is a dramatic far cry from the long marches and bloody battles our ancestors had to partake in to gain the freedoms we (used to) enjoy.  If you're too lazy to exert such little effort for liberty then you don't deserve it!

Eliminate the DEA

I am trying to gain initial support for a petition on "We the People" web site for the elimination of the DEA.  Help me run the numbers up at https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions/!/petition/abolish-drug-enforcement-agency-dea-americas-expensive-answer-gestapo/ZCFZzpff

This is not a hot link so copy the address and paste it into your browser's address bar.  thanks so much.

Eliminate the DEA

New link to the 'Eliminate the DEA' petition on WE THE PEOPLE web site.  Please help. http://wh.gov/4a8

 

I wonder how many of these

I wonder how many of these people were arrested simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Something like this happened to me one time and I was able to get out thanks to the help I've got from Louis J. Goodman, calling a lawyer as soon as possible is the way to go if you want to get out of trouble.

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