ALABAMA’S JEFFERSON COUNTY WILL NO LONGER PROSECUTE MARIJUANA MISDEMEANORS
ALABAMA’S JEFFERSON COUNTY WILL NO LONGER If you need any more proof that law enforcement agencies across the United States are. Going in on cannabis decriminalization, how’s this? On Monday, Alabama’s Jefferson County — where more people live than any other county in the state — announced that. It not be making arrests for nonviolent misdemeanors anymore.
A driving force appears to the county’s determination to spend less resources persecuting those with small-time marijuana charges.
“I think this is going to help a lot of people and get a lot of people back on track,” said county sheriff Mark Pettway, who ran for the position with a campaign promising that he’d cut back on marijuana arrests. “Those who want help will be able to get help,”
“People are always talking about criminal justice reform,” sheriff spokesperson Capt. David Aggee said while announcing the shift in policy. “Well this is more than talk, this is action. So, This is big.’”
The decriminalization deliberations may well be a response to publicly voiced concerns over the current system of cannabis law. The mayor of Tuscaloosa Walt Maddox suggested that tickets rather than jail time be the result of low level marijuana possession arrests. “We need to deal with this in a different pattern besides throwing somebody in jail,” he said at a city council event in December. His words seem to portend policy shifts int he future for the town.
The lightening in penalties for such crimes s made all the more urgent by recent data showing that Black Alabamans. Are arreste at four times higher rates than whites for cannabis possession. Blacks were also shown to b five times more like to incur marijuana-relate felonies than whites.
Alabama is not the only Southern state making surprising moves towards overhauling its criminal justice system. Dallas District Attorney John Creuzot recently announced sweeping changes to the city’s overcrowded jail infrastructure, including the decision that the large Texan city would cease to prosecute first-time marijuana misdemeanor cases.
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