Knox County Blacks More Likely To Be Arrested For Pot Possession Than Whites

Jun 13, 2013

Credit Dohduhdah via Wikimedia Commons

In a county where nearly 87% of the population is white, blacks in Knox County are arrested for marijuana possession more than six times as often as whites.  That's despite statistics that show marijuana use among blacks and whites is similar.  The findings were revealed in a recent study of FBI crime data by the American Civil Liberties Union.   The ACLU concluded blacks in America are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for possessing pot than whites.  At 4.0, Tennessee's disparity rate is slightly above the national average.  But the rate is markedly higher in certain parts of East Tennessee, home to four of the five counties with the greatest disparity (Monroe, Knox, Anderson and Blount Counties).     

In Knox County, 86% of the people arrested for possession in 2010 were black, when compared with whites.  That disparity rate of 6.2 is the third highest in the state among counties in which at least 2% of the population is black.  The state's highest rate is in Monroe County, where blacks are more than 10 times more likely to be arrested than whites.  Census data show 95% of the county's population is white. 

The report also shows the number of marijuana possession arrests among blacks in Tennessee has risen more than 125% since 2001.  During that same time period, the number of whites arrested for the same crime has remained steady.