Recent Comments

Re: “The grass gap

Another factor which bears mentioning is the property ownership gap between white and black neighborhoods. In the predominately white areas of Chicago and the suburbs, far more people own their own homes, cars and property. They can smoke pot in private and not need to worry about the cops bothering them.
In the poorer black neighborhoods, a large number of houses and apartments are rentals, and there seems to be more of a tendency for teenagers and young adults (people of "pot smoking age") to congregate outside. Combine this with the exponentially larger number of police officers in those areas and a simple "field interview" of a group of black teens or young adults is more likely to lead to some sort of arrest. And with each arrest comes money for the machine - Cook County and the City of Chicago.
Additionally, lawyers are expensive, public defenders are overburdened with cases which may or may not have merit, and access to justice varies by socioeconomic status. If you live in a poor neighborhood and catch a pot case, you won't be able to afford the high priced lawyer that a suburban kid or someone living in River North or Lakeview may be able to afford. Often the path of least resistance is to be represented by a public defender and plead guilty. It's cheaper and quicker than fighting a case that may need to be fought all the way to trial.
There is no easy answer to these disparities in wealth and access to justice, but if Anita Alvarez and whomever holds the purse strings for the State's Attorney's office want to be more fiscally responsible, there needs to be more discretion at all levels to look at these pot cases and determine which are worth pursuing. Without sounding like a cliche or broken record, there are real criminals out there (I defend them in court all the time), and wasting time and resources on pot arrests doesn't make sense at any level.
-Cook County Criminal Defense Attorney

Posted by ChiDefenseLawyer on 07/08/2011 at 2:53 PM

Favorite Places

  • None.
Find places »

Saved Events

  • Nada.
Find events »

Saved Stories

  • Nope.
Find stories »

Custom Lists

  • Zip.