MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A new report says that black people in Minnesota are nearly 6 times more likely than their white counterparts to be arrested for drug possession.
The data comes from Human Rights Watch, an international human rights organization that released a report Wednesday on the impact of criminalizing drug use in the United States.
One section of the report that focuses on racial disparities shows that black people nationwide are more likely than whites to be arrested for drug possession, even though black people use drugs at rates equal to, or less than, white people.
Human Rights Watch says these disparities amount to racial discrimination.
“Under international human rights law, prohibited racial discrimination occurs where there is an unjustifiable disparate impact on a racial or ethnic group, regardless of whether there is any intent to discriminate against that group,” the report said. “Enforcement of drug possession laws in the U.S. reveals stark racial disparities that cannot be justified by disparities in rates of use.”
Minnesota is one of the states where the disparities are particularly stark, according to Human Rights Watch. In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, black people are arrested for drug possession at a rate of nearly 6 to 1 when compared with whites.
That ratio is considerably higher than the national average, which is 2.5 to 1.
Only three states in the Human Rights Watch report have higher disparities in terms of arrests: Vermont, Iowa and Montana, all of which had rates higher than 6 to 1.
Racial disparities in Minnesota have been well documented, with recent headlines showing gaps in household income, employment and educational achievement. In his 2016 budget, Gov. Mark Dayton put aside $100 million to help close some of these gaps.