Brooklyn DA to Stop Prosecuting for Low-Level Pot Arrests

The Brooklyn district attorney's office will stop prosecuting low-level marijuana arrests, according to a confidential memo obtained by the New York Times.

The district attorney, Kenneth P. Thompson sent the policy proposal to the New York Police Department earlier this month.

The memo states that charges against anyone arrested with a small amount of marijuana who lacks a prior conviction will be "immediately dismissed," and "the police will be directed to destroy the defendant's fingerprints." Some 8,500 people were processed last year in Brooklyn on low-level drug charges.

"We are pouring money and effort into an endeavor that produces no public safety benefit for the community," the memo reads.

From the Times:

One goal of the proposed marijuana policy, which is still in draft form, is to ensure that "individuals, and especially young people of color, do not become unfairly burdened and stigmatized by involvement in the criminal justice system for engaging in nonviolent conduct that poses no threat of harm to persons or property," according to the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times.

Marijuana possession is the most common reason for arraignment in New York City: Criminal possession of marijuana in the fifth degree, which is the charge when someone is caught with small amounts of marijuana in public view, has repeatedly been the top arraignment charge in New York City, according to court records.

According to a 2013 report from the ACLU, black people are nine times as likely as white people to be arrested for marijuana possession in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told the Times he opposed marijuana decriminalization and would continue to make arrests, though he added the department would do so with "a lot more discretion."

[Image via AP]