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"Wealth further confounds the problem. Radel, a well off politician is given the benefit of doubt where poor people are not. As a comparison, consider what The New York Times found when it decided to compare marijuana possession arrests from then-mayor Michael Bloomberg’s New York City neighborhood and a low-income neighborhood in the Brooklyn.

On the Upper East Side of Manhattan where the mayor lives, an average of 20 people for every 100,000 residents were arrested on the lowest-level misdemeanor pot charge in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

During those same years, the marijuana arrest rate in Brownsville, Brooklyn, was 3,109 for every 100,000 residents.

That means the chances of getting arrested on pot charges in Brownsville — and nothing else — were 150 times greater than on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Wealth and whiteness become a shield that protects a person from legal consequences. The poor and black don’t have that same protection.

While Radel was sentenced with compassion and redemption in mind, black Americans can’t expect the same. When they are arrested (and nearly half of them will be by the time they are 23 years old) blacks can look forward to sentences that are 60 percent longer than whites facing identical charges."


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