Arnold Ventures Awards $1.7 million Grant to Support Data Collaborative for Justice

Arnold Ventures Awards $1.7 million Grant to Support Data Collaborative for Justice

Arnold Ventures Awards $1.7 million Grant to Support Data Collaborative for Justice

(New York, NY) – Despite dramatic declines in marijuana possession arrests from their peak years for New York City and “Upstate Cities,” the numbers and rates of arrests remained higher in 2017 than in 1990, according to a new report from the Data Collaborative for Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (DCJ). The report was released February 8, 2019 at a special presentation featuring Alphonso David, Counsel to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Benjamin Tucker, First Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Police Department, and Jeremy Travis, Executive Vice President of Criminal Justice at Arnold Ventures.

Counsel to Governor Andrew Cuomo Alphonso David

 

The report, Marijuana Enforcement in New York, 1990 to 2017, found that statewide, Blacks and Hispanics consistently had the highest rates of enforcement compared to Whites and these racial differences in arrest rates widened between 2002 (the first year for which race data is available statewide) and 2017.

Read the research brief / Read the full report.

“This report, unfortunately, shows in the period over the last 20 years, there has been significant inconsistency in enforcement among New York City, upstate cities, and the rest of the state. And significant disparities in enforcement by age, by race, and by ethnicity,” said Alphonso David, Counsel to Governor Cuomo. “The lives of real people are at risk and we have to be driven by the data.”

“This report from the Data Collaborative for Justice provides crucial, unbiased data for policymakers as they consider how to reform marijuana policy through both statewide legislation and local policies,” said Karol V. Mason, President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “The results point to key questions on the impact of marijuana policy on young people and people of color around the state; including public consumption of marijuana.”

Other Key Findings from the Report include:        

•          In 2017 in New York City, the vast majority of misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests (~93%) were for possession of marijuana in public view or public consumption whereas for the Upstate Cities (Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers), and the Rest of the State, significant percentages of misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests were for possession of between 25 grams to 8 ounces (~60% and ~30% respectively)

•          Statewide, 18-20 year olds consistently had the highest rates of enforcement for marijuana possession statewide, mostly driven by New York City results. There was more variability by age in Upstate Cities and the Rest of the State.

•          In 2017, the racial differences in arrest rates were wider for the Upstate Cities and the Rest of the State compared to New York City.

 “Over the last five years we have been focused on how we can make the city safer and reduce marijuana arrests,” said NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker. “The data presented here validates our belief that we can bring crime down and reduce marijuana enforcement in particular, while also keeping the city safe.”

Benjamin Tucker, First Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Police Department
Benjamin Tucker, First Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Police Department

Jeremy Travis, Executive Vice President of Criminal Justice at Arnold Ventures
Jeremy Travis, Executive Vice President of Criminal Justice at Arnold Ventures

“The report’s findings about trends in marijuana arrests – specifically the enormous variations across the state, the disturbing racial disparities, and the sheer volume of arrests – come at a time when officials across the State are engaged in spirited debate on whether to legalize marijuana possession,” said Jeremy Travis, Executive Vice President of Criminal Justice at Arnold Ventures. “Arnold Ventures (formerly the Laura and John Arnold Foundation) is pleased to have partnered with John Jay College to support the Misdemeanor Justice Project and to celebrate the launch of the Data Collaborative for Justice. In recognition of the significant impact this research has had on enforcement policy in New York, Arnold Ventures has awarded a grant of $1.7 million to continue this path-breaking work for the next three years.” 

Data Collaborative for Justice logo

The marijuana report is the first to be published by the Data Collaborative for Justice (DCJ), a name change from the Misdemeanor Justice Project (MJP). MJP, which was founded in 2013, has provided the public, policymakers, practitioners, advocates and academics with an impartial source of data and analyses on trends in lower-level enforcement across the State and in New York City.  The change to the DCJ reflects the organization’s expanded efforts to look at criminal justice issues, beyond misdemeanor enforcement, that touch the lives of millions of people nationwide, such as pretrial detention and bail.  DCJ’s new name also reflects the work the organization is doing around the country, through the Research Network on Misdemeanor Justice, to build out a network of jurisdictions committed to collaborating with researchers to make data about the criminal justice system available to the public and policymakers DCJ’s ultimate goal is for every community in the nation to use data and research as the basis for a shared vision of public safety, equity and justice.

“We have released reports on important aspects of the criminal justice system that were poorly understood because of a lack of data; areas like misdemeanor arrests, summonses, and jail admissions,” said Associate Professor Preeti Chauhan, Director of DCJ. “Now, with additional facts in hand, we can have more productive conversations on issues, such as misdemeanor marijuana enforcement, that may have implications for public safety, police-community relations and the legitimacy of the criminal justice system.”

“At a time when marijuana policy is the subject of intense debate, it is essential that policymakers consider this report, which presents a comprehensive picture of how marijuana possession has been enforced around the state for the previous three decades.  Armed with this data, policymakers are better equipped to address complex questions around the impacts of reduced enforcement, including racial differences in arrests, geographic variation in enforcement, and consumption by young people and in public,” said Erica Bond, Chief Policy Strategist for DCJ. “This report will also provide a solid empirical foundation for tracking and monitoring the impacts of future law and policy changes.”

About the Data Collaborative for Justice
The Data Collaborative for Justice (DCJ) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice houses a group of research initiatives that raise important questions and share critical research about the criminal justice system and its role in creating safe, just and equitable communities. DCJ conducts data analysis and research on enforcement in the community, the adjudication of cases in the courts, and the use of confinement in jails and prisons. DCJ’s work has informed policy reforms, facilitated partnerships between researchers and government agencies across the country, spurred new scholarly research on lower-level enforcement, and been cited extensively in the press.  

To date DCJ has published reports on misdemeanor arrests, criminal summonses, pedestrian stops, mobility of arrests for misdemeanors, trends in jail admissions and custody, as well as evaluations of reform initiatives. For more information, please go to: datacollaborativeforjustice.org.   

About John Jay College of Criminal Justice: 
An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York is a Hispanic Serving Institution and Minority Serving Institution offering a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. John Jay is home to faculty and research centers at the forefront of advancing criminal and social justice reform. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College engages the theme of justice and explores fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit www.jjay.cuny.edu and follow us on Twitter @JohnJayCollege.