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Arrests in 2016 related to drug possession

In 2016, there were over 1.57 million arrests in Wisconsin and the rest of the nation for drug law violations, according to the Uniform Crime Report released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The figure represents a 5.63-percent rise over the number for 2015 and is more than three times the number of arrests for all violent crimes.

Over four out of five of the drug-related arrests in 2016, or 84.6 percent of them, pertained to drug possession. The number of arrests related to marijuana also rose, encompassing nearly 41 percent of all drug arrests. Most of those arrests were for simple possession.

The exorbitant number of drug-related arrests does not correspond with the public opinion about drug use. Most people in the United States not only support the legalization of marijuana, but also the termination of treating drug use as a crime. According to a Drug Policy Alliance report, a growing number of professionals in the scientific and political communities agree that people who are otherwise obeying the law should not be arrested and penalized just for possessing or using drugs.

The discriminatory manner in which drug possession laws have been enforced has resulted in ethnic- and racial-based inequality throughout the justice system. While black individuals make up 13 percent of the country's population and have a rate of drug use similar to that of other racial groups, they account for 29 percent of people taken into custody for drug law violation and make up 35 percent of the individuals who are given state prison sentences for the possession of drugs.

Individuals who are facing drug charges should consult with a criminal defense attorney. The attorney may litigate to ensure that a client's rights are protected and may work to have the charges reduced or dropped.

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