Study finds racial disparity for marijuana arrests in Campbell Co.

CAMPBELL COUNTY, KY (FOX19) - An ACLU report studying the link between marijuana possession arrests and race puts Campbell County, KY in a tough spot.

The study, 'The War on Marijuana in Black and White', looks at pot possession arrest rates in each state.  Campbell County is said to have the highest rate for any U.S. county for African American arrest rates.

The report uses the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting program and census population estimates by age, sex, race and ethnicity.  From there, the arrests are calculated per 100,000 for marijuana possession by race.

The study claims there is an extreme racial disparity that exists in marijuana possession arrests.  The study says African Americans are nearly four times more likely than whites to be arrested.

In the study, Campbell County is said to be home to 90,534 people in 2010, which according to their numbers, pot possession arrests rates for African Americans topped the list.

"When they ranked counties, they looked at counties that had a population of greater than 30,000, and an African American population that was greater than 2%," said Amber Duke, communications manager at the ACLU office in Kentucky.

The study says that in 2010 2.6% of the Campbell County population was black.  They are 12.2 times more likely to be arrested on those possession charges than white people.  On top of that, more than 5,600 black people were arrested compared to 465 white people.

Those numbers aren't sitting well with some.

"Our police do not care whether you're white, whether you're black, whether you're green.  Our police enforce the law, and it is the crime we care about," said Campbell County Attorney, Steve Franzen.

Franzen dug up some numbers in Campbell County from January 1 to June 5.  He says there were 295 marijuana possession arrests.

"194 of those were white, and 97 of them were black.  That's not at all what the study by the ACLU is indicating the way these charges are being handled," added Franzen.

But, despite the study's reported findings, some say these numbers should open some doors.

"It's an alarming situation, but, the alarming situation is an opportunity.  It's an opportunity to allow us to engage in a conversation to make sure that this doesn't reflect our region," said Jerome Bowles, president of the NAACP Northern Kentucky branch.

Duke said the FBI crime reports only allow for one of four races to be recorded when arrested.  Those are white, black, Asian and Native American, leaving out Latinos or those who are bi-racial.

There is a section of the study dedicated to that called 'The Latino Data Problem'.

Kenton County also makes the list, coming in at #15 with African Americans being ten times more likely to get arrested for marijuana possession.

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