Human Rights Watch, an international advocacy organization that focuses on human rights violations worldwide, has revealed that arresting and prosecuting low level marijuana offenders in New York City has little or no long-term impact on law enforcement efforts to reduce violent crime.
It was reported by a study released by Human Rights Watch that criminal records of nearly 30,000 people who had no prior convictions when they were arrested for marijuana possession in public view [NY State Penal Law 221.10] in 2003 and 2004 was tracked.
The researchers reported: “We found that 3.1 percent of [marijuana arrestees] were subsequently convicted of one violent felony offense during the six-and-a-half to eight-and-a-half years that our research covers; 0.4 percent had two or more violent felony convictions. That is, 1,022 persons out of the nearly 30,000 we tracked had subsequent violent felony convictions. Ninety percent (26,315) had no subsequent felony convictions of any kind.”
The study found that the New York City police arrest more people for possessing small amounts of marijuana in public view than for any other offense. Police between 1996 and 2011 made more than half-a-million (586,320) arrests for this misdemeanor, including a total of around 100,000 in just the 2 years of 2010 and 2011.
Investigators concluded: “The rate of felony and violent felony conviction among this group of first-time marijuana arrest’s appear to be lower than the rate of felony conviction’s for the national population, taking into account age, gender, and race. … Neither of our findings nor those of other researchers indicate the arrests are an efficient or fair means for identifying future dangerous felons.”