Sunday, February 28, 2016

Most Texas drug arrests are for pot, most pot charges dismissed

About 55 percent of all arrests for drug possession in Texas in FY 2014 were for marijuana, according to the Department of Public Safety. There were 67,196 arrests statewide for pot possession and 55,460 for cocaine, opiates, synthetics, and all other narcotics.

According to the Office of Court Administration (p. 73 of pdf), the conviction rate for marijuana possession cases in FY 2014 was 48.2 percent in statutory county courts and only 42.3 percent in constitutional county courts, meaning a slight majority of those arrested for low-level pot possession are not convicted.

So, Texas cops arrest pot smokers and take them to jail more often than they make arrests for much more serious drugs, disrupting people's lives and needlessly cycling extra folks through the county jail, most of whom will never be convicted. What a friggin' waste of time and resources!

According to national data, nearly 10 percent of American adults use marijuana for either recreational or medical purposes.

16 comments:

Harry Homeless said...

Not such a waste of time! Pot arrests make non-pot users feel morally superior. That's why factual, rational arguments for legalization don't hold water. Those arrested for pot are nothing more than political prisoners.

Anonymous said...

Wait! I thought they were all going to prison? Isn't that the narrative being spread by the Smart on Crime bunch for the last several years?

Anonymous said...

It is "the war on drugs" that finally exposed the inherent racism in the criminal justice system. A lot of white people acknowledge use of marijuana but if you look at the arrest records you might be left with the impression that only people of color smoke. Don't forget that it has also been used to deny people of color jobs and other opportunities. Shame on the "war on drugs" crowd!!

Anonymous said...

@5:33 don't you mean "JAIL" Since most pot charges are misdemeanors not felonies???

Will Yablome said...

KLAATU BARADA NIKTO!

Anonymous said...

Missing a huge part of this- many arrests for POM arise out of felony arrests. Defendant is arrested for POCS PG1, or Agg. Assault, or even another misdemeanor like Theft. The defendant pleas to the felony or misdemeanor crime of moral turpitude and the POM is dismissed. That doesn't mean that the defendant ended up walking out of court with nothing happening, just that the POM was the least important pending charge.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@9:02, as I understand it DPS arrest data lists the highest charge as the cause of the arrest. I don't think your analysis is correct.

Anonymous said...

But your use of dismissal rates comes from OCA, which reflects *all* dispositions, not from DPS arrest data.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Ok, but the pot arrest number does not include the categories of offenses you talk about. And I seriously doubt that the number of cases where pot is a lesser charge remotely approaches the straight-up arrests for pot. If you have data that indicate that, please provide it.

Gunny Thompson said...

A recent report on police shootings was recently implemented that is incomplete: A complete picture does not provide names of the shooters and victims that are needed for a necessary open government. Additionally, in compliance with the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, all public officials involved in shootings must be tested and the results posted in cases of substance abuse violations.

Anonymous said...

Alcohol has always been shown to be much more dangerous than marijuana. Once that weed is legalized, law enforcement will have more time to focus on real crimes that involve danger to people and their property. The time will come when politicians realize that prohibition didn't work then and won't work now. Stop wasting taxpayers money!

Wenceslaoism Garza said...

legalize medical and recreational cannabis in Texas 2017

Anonymous said...

Drugs are only a problem when the perception out there is that it's a "black drug". Most Americans associate marijuana to Bob Marley and Jamaica generally so it's a "black drug". When white people possess illegal drugs then it's not a law enforcement problem but an "epidemic". Good examples are heroine in the northeastern U.S. or or the underground pain-pill shopping right here in Texas. Bottom line is Criminal Justice System is dead set against minorities and has always been.

Anonymous said...

I am of the belief that after drug prohibition ends there still must be reparations made. You can't just destroy millions upon millions of lives and walk away unscathed. All those who created and enforced these unjust laws must be held accountable and punished. FEMA camps across the country must be outfitted with gas chambers and crematoriums and put to good use. If Hitler could do such half a century ago, we can do it now.

Spike Bradford said...

I wonder how many jail days are spent by pot defendants who can't afford bail.

Anonymous said...

It's not a waste of time. There has to be a good economic reason for these needless arrests. My guess is that somebody is profiting from this Arrest-Bail Bond Complex. Maybe Grits should do a follow-the-money piece on this