After Ald. Danny Solis (25th) announced his decision to propose changes to Chicago's laws for small amounts of marijuana possession, RedEye gave him a call to see why he thinks the issue is ripe for discussion.
Why did you put this measure forward?
There are basically three reasons. … The key issue for me on this is that this is over 83,000 hours of police time that can be spent in our neighborhoods, patrolling for more serious crimes.
And the second reason?
The great majority of these arrests are of African-Americans and, second, Hispanics. This can have a very negative effect in terms of their futures—whether it's in finding a job, whether it's in going to school or whether it's in some cases there's a need for public housing, that [arrest] kicks them out of that eligibility.
If we can get fines instead of arrests we'll get a positive revenue production versus a negative revenue deduction to the city budget.
Is racial discrimination a factor in arrests?
Without a doubt. You go to the Lollapalooza concert [and] most of the people there were white and you could definitely, as I understand, smell the marijuana in the air.
Should minor marijuana possession be on someone's permanent record?
If this is an arrest for the first time, this should not be on their permanent record. I believe that we can show a lot of data that young men and women, primarily minorities, have been very detrimentally affected by the consequences of this being on their record. … [But] if this is something that is consistently happening to an individual, well, then you've got to pay the piper.
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