Ramping up broken windows policing (which promotes cracking down on petty crimes like marijuana possession) will have tangible ramifications for Black Americans—ruining lives and widening racial inequality. Recent history shows that lengthy sentences for nonviolent drug and poverty related crimes function to discriminate against Black and brown communities, trapping vulnerable individuals in America’s cycle of criminalization and incarceration, and leaving these communities with even less economic resources and familial support systems.
The evidence that Black and white Americans use and sell drugs at roughly the same rates is clear, with the National Research Council stating that the racial difference in drug use is “not substantial,” and that “there is also little evidence... that blacks sell drugs more often than whites.” Yet from 1995 to 2005, 36 percent of those arrested on drug charges were Black, along with 46 percent of those convicted of drug crimes. African Americans make up just 13 percent of the general population, demonstrating that discriminatory law enforcement and sentencing lands more Black people in jail for drug offenses. Eighty percent of drug arrests are for possession alone, revealing how little this has to do with violence reduction or rooting out gang activity.
Sessions and Trump are turning back the clock on the limited progress made to end racially discriminatory policing and sentencing. At the same time, Trump's proposed budget cuts financing for substance abuse services by $109 million while increasing funding for the Drug Enforcement Agency by $150 million.