In the United States, the pipeline that funnels poor people of color into mass incarceration has been well-documented, and it has a lot to do with the War on Drugs. Black and white people smoke pot at roughly the same rate, but in 2010, the ACLU found that black people were nearly four times more likely on average to be arrested for possession.
Some places, like New York City, reflect these disparities in more extreme ways. In 2013, black people made up 61% of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisks for suspected possession of marijuana. Whites? Only 9%.
Now, the ACLU has rolled out a tool that brings the issue closer to home, wherever you live in the U.S. The racial justice calculator plugs in your state, tells you how often a person is arrested for pot possession there, and how likely that person is to be black. In New York, you’re 4.52 times more likely to be arrested for possession while black. In Pennsylvania, you’re a whopping 5.19 times more likely to be arrested. In Washington D.C., our nation’s capital, a black person bears more than eight times the risk a white person does for carrying pot and getting arrested.
People who can’t afford to post bail for arrests like these often linger in jail systems like Rikers Island for months, simply awaiting a trial.
To learn more, check out the calculator here.