Prisons and Prison Life Current Events - Essay Sample

Published: 2023-12-26
Prisons and Prison Life Current Events - Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Policy Law Drug Drug abuse
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1225 words
11 min read


The Drug Policy Alliance was established to create an envisioned just society whereby the regulation of drug use is based on facts related to science, compassion, health as well as human rights. For centuries, the use of marijuana in the United States was considered as an alternative treatment for numerous afflictions. As such, it wasn’t until 1941 where it no longer existed as part of the U.S pharmacopeia. Criminalization of the drug began in the early 20th century for reasons not related to risking public health or safety. Factors such as racial prejudice were effective in this process because often, it has been branded as the “Marijuana Arrest Capital of the World.” On the contrary, the data collected by the U.S government around 1980 suggest that the rise in the number of arrests cannot be linked to increased use of marijuana. The last twenty years have quite been significant in terms of arrests associated with marijuana possession. It is proclaimed that the NYPD has deliberately acknowledged marijuana arrests as one of the foremost concerns in enforcement policy, disregarding any public interest or debate.

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In the article, the figures released recently in 2010 by the New York Division of Criminal Justice point out that the number of people arrested by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) added up to around 50,383 (2010 NYC). Most of these arrests were for low-level marijuana possession offenses. In comparison to the arrests made in 2005, which was about 29,752, there is a 69 percent increase. Averagely, nearly 140 people face charges in New York City (NYC). In 2002, Michael Bloomberg was elected as the mayor of NYC. Based on that account, the city has experienced more than 350,000 arrests as a result of low-level marijuana offenses.

Sociological Analysis Behind the Readings on Crime and Race

Since the implementation of the stop-and-frisks policy, New Yorkers and their families have faced devastating consequences as a result of high juvenile arrests. As it was pointed out by the Director of the Institute for Juvenile Justice Reforms and Alternatives, Kyung Ji Rhee, “The NYPD and Mayor Bloomberg are waging a war on young Blacks and Latinos in New York.” Factors such as loss of financial aid, permanent criminal records, possible loss of child custody, and loss of public housing, among other collateral damages, have contributed significantly to the issue due to the number of arrests made on those in possession for small amounts of marijuana.

In 1977, the Marijuana Reform Act was established to decriminalize marijuana possession. However, in New York, only a few have come upon this legislation which was sponsored by a Republican State Senator and a Democratic State Assemblyperson. In the statement, most of the arrests, criminal prosecutions, and criminal penalties were considered insignificant, especially for those who possess small amounts of marijuana, specifically for personal use. The legislature was compelled to decriminalize possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana. As an alternative, possessing a small amount of marijuana was termed as an act of legal ‘violation’ and not a criminal offense. Furthermore, anyone refusing to comply with the law would be required to face a maximum penalty of a $100 fine as the first offense, disregarding any arrest or jail. Also, the burning of marijuana, especially “in public view” was categorized as a criminal offense, a misdemeanor to be specific. Over 575,000 people were stopped and questioned in 2009, around 84% of them being those of color. Based on the information gathered, over 325,000 stops of those included, resulted in frisks. Meaning that around 12% of that population experienced few summons or arrests.

For this reason, the Institute for Juvenile Justice Reforms and Alternatives (IJJRA), and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) established a program known as “Know Your Rights, Build Your Future.” The program was launched to educate and train New Yorkers in matters associated with their rights as well as the law. As part of a City-wide campaign, it targets mainly the youth intending to end the marijuana arrest crusade, therefore promoting effective policies among them. As Gabriel Sayegh, Director for the Drug Policy Alliance, New York State mentioned, "The NYPD's marijuana enforcement practices are racially bias, unjust, and costly.” In other words, whatever was implemented in the decriminalization law suggests that a mayor can take immediate action to end these arrests by ordering both Police Commissioner and the NYPD to abide by what the law states and follow its legislative intent.

The increase in marijuana use is not often associated with its legalization. Based on a study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, there is little evidence pointing out to the fact that the decriminalization of marijuana can lead to a substantial increase in its use necessarily. Hence, since the approval of medical marijuana, the majority of states have found out that there is a decline in its use, especially among young people. From this perspective, experts relate the decrease to a diminished “forbidden fruit” effect. The reason being due to the decreased access to the drug, as it becomes more popular in unregulated streets that disregard age requirements. In comparison, licensed dispensaries recommend that one has to be at least 21 years or older to purchase marijuana. In 2015, the state’s departments of education, human resources, health, and the environment conducted a comprehensive survey in Colorado. It was found that there was a slight decline in the use of marijuana among adolescents, since its legalization back in 2012.


To determine whether the decrease or increase in the use of marijuana is significantly affected by the new laws, it is also important to view matters in terms of the legalization process. As such, identifying such factors may assist in determining the cause and effect of drug use and drug prohibition. In the legalization process, when involving a case such as the use of marijuana, it is essential to incorporate some aspects, including minimizing the stark racial disparities experienced among hundreds of thousands of people. Certain factors such as the health, fiscal as well as human costs might also be affected when enforcing these laws.

Despite the efforts made to implement the marijuana law reforms, more arrests are still being carried out. More than $3 billion has been spent among the states to enforce marijuana prohibition. These expensive arrests tend to act based on racial prejudice and politics. During the 1910s and 20s, the first marijuana laws were mostly aimed at Mexican migrants and Mexican Americans. Nowadays, Latino and Black communities are common targets subjected to wildly disproportionate practices associated with the use of marijuana and its enforcement. For many, these arrests may create permanent criminal records. Therefore, affecting not only their status in society but also may lead to loss of employment, financial aid as well as housing, and child custody. The last two decades have been quite significant incorporating more sensible laws associated with the use of marijuana. Across the political spectrum, powerful movements were established to address the issue at hand. More people are educated on various training platforms such as "Know Your Rights, Build Your Future, " on matters involving the use of marijuana. The training incorporates the promotion of effective policies concerning ending the marijuana arrest crusade.

Works Cited

"2010 NYC Marijuana Arrest Numbers Released: 50,383 New Yorkers Arrested For Possessing Small Amounts Of Marijuana". Https://Www.Drugpolicy.Org/, 2011,

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