A recently conducted report regarding Arizona’s criminal justice system indicates significant disparities in cases involving marijuana.
“Hispanic people comprise 31% of Arizona’s resident population and 32% of arrests for marijuana possession, but almost 60% of the people admitted to prison for that crime,” AZ Central noted from the report.
It was found that African Americans and Caucasians are jailed at nearly the same rate in Arizona for marijuana possession. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery mentioned that the racial imbalance is not “consequence of any biased decision-making.”
The report compared imprisonment rates between Maricopa County and Miami-Dade County in Florida as both counties have similar demographics.
The report found: “Maricopa sends six times as many people to prison as Miami-Dade and increased admissions to state prison by 33% while prison admissions from Miami-Dade have fallen 46%.”
Arizona law requires diversion programs and/or probation for first time offenders. Furthermore, when a sentence is imposed, the state requires that 85% of the sentence be completed.
It is speculated that although arrest and charge records seem semi-stable across all demographic groups, some demographics are likely being charged with offenses that others would likely have dismissed.