New York Times: A Marijuana Stash That Carried Little Risk
LAST year, the Bronx Defenders, which represents poor people in criminal court, tried to have suppression hearings in 54 cases involving marijuana possession. In such hearings, the police officer would have been required to testify about the circumstances under which the marijuana was found. If it was the result of an illegal search, the judge could have barred the use of the evidence.
But not once did the hearings go forward: missing paperwork, officer’s day off, the drip, drip of wasted time. On average, each case required five court appearances, and stretched over eight months. Most of the charges were dropped or lowered to noncriminal violations.
The process itself was the punishment, and it was inflicted almost exclusively on blacks and Latinos.
By Jim Dwyer