Great piece today on the front page of the DN today by my colleague William "Bill" Bender asking why Philadelphia still spends millions arresting dudes for small amounts of pot when the DA's office is no longer prosecuting them:
The SAM program, however, has created a gaping disconnect between how marijuana is treated on the street and in court: Thousands of smokers continue to be arrested every year, only to be told that prosecutors let the whole thing slide. For those who go through the SAM program, it's as if the arrest never happened - at least on paper.
"Thousands of dollars we were spending on defendants who possessed $10 or $15 worth of weed. It just makes no sense from a management standpoint and criminology standpoint," District Attorney Seth Williams said. "All that money is saved now."
So why not just issue court summonses instead of performing time-consuming custodial arrests? And why should taxpayers pay for the police man-hours if most of the cases are expunged?
The story here seems tied to stop-and-frisk style policing -- most of these arrests are taking place in low-income, predominantly black or Latino neighborhoods, even though it's not unheard of for people in mostly white areas of town to smoke the demon weed, also. The fact that these low-grade pot busts are taking place is proof that stop-and-frisk lives on, the city's promises to the contrary.
Meanwhile, our pro-corporate Michael Bloomberg wannabe Mayor Nutter has successfully vetoed the sick-leave legislation that has become law in other more progressive cities. So while some areas have medical marijuana, Philly remains a terrible place to get sick on the job, or get high, or both.