Reducing Disparities

Criminalization disproportionately harms people and communities of color

Law enforcement disproportionately targets low-income communities and people of color when enforcing drug laws, despite the fact that people of all races use drugs at similar rates. In the state of Oregon, Black and Indigenous people are disproportionately more likely than white people to be arrested for drug possession and be convicted of felony drug possession.

According to U.S. government statistics, black people use drugs at similar rates to people of other races. Black people comprise 26 percent of all drug-related arrests nationally even though they comprise only 13 percent of the US population.

The Criminal Justice System Disproportionately targets individuals and communities of color

Law enforcement disproportionately targets low-income communities and people of color when enforcing drug laws, despite the fact that people of all races use drugs at similar rates. Research shows that prosecutors are twice as likely to pursue a mandatory minimum sentence for Black people compared to white people charged with the same offense.

These injustices create life-long barriers to employment, housing and health services that provide opportunities.

Federal law requires states to deny welfare and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, generally known as “food stamps,” to anyone with a felony drug conviction or to affirmatively opt-out or modify the ban.

Increased drug testing and hyper-criminalization fueled by the drug war combine to block people who use drugs, or are suspected of using drugs, from public services.

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