An Analysis of Alternatives to New York City's Current Marijuana Arrest and Detention Policy

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October 6, 2007
Bruce D. Johnson, Andrew Golub and Eloise Dunlap
National Development and Research Institutes, Inc.

During the 1990s, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) instituted a policy of arresting and detaining people for minor offenses that occur in public as part of their quality-of-life (QOL) policing initiative. This paper examines the pros and cons of the current policy and compares it with possible alternatives including: arrest and issuing of a desk appearance ticket (DAT); issuing of a non-criminal citation (violation); street warnings; and toleration of public marijuana smoking. The paper recommends that the NYPD change to routinely issuing DATs to reduce detention for marijuana violators that will help reduce the disproportionate burden on people of color associated with the current arrest and detention policy.

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