Theuncovery.org uses 2010 data, which was the most current data set available when we built this site. Theuncovery.org relies on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reporting Program and the United States Census' annual county population estimates by age, sex, race, and ethnicity to document arrest rates per 100,000 for marijuana possession by race. The fiscal cost analysis utilizes the aforementioned arrest data and draws supplemental data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics' Criminal Justice Expenditure and Employment Extracts data from Fiscal Year 2009. This series includes national-, federal-, and state-level estimates of government expenditures and employment for the following justice categories: (1) police protection; (2) all judicial functions (including prosecution, courts, and public defense); and (3) corrections.
This site's sole focus on Black-white racial disparities is the result of the fact that the FBI's arrest data does not identify Latinos as a distinct racial group and thus does not distinguish between white and Latino arrests. In other words, an arrest of a Latino is overwhelmingly categorized as a "white" arrest.
Data from Colorado and Washington has been excluded from this site. When these states passed laws legalizing marijuana through taxation and regulation in 2012, they effectively ended many of the problems with marijuana arrests highlighted on this site. Additionally, please note that California's enforcement expenditures in 2011 would be lower following decriminalization of possession of 28.5 grams or less of marijuana in 2010 and the accompanying drop in marijuana arrests.
For more information about our methodology and additional analysis, please visit http://www.aclu.org/marijuana to read Marijuana in Black and White, first report to examine this data for all 50 states and their respective counties, as well as the District of Columbia.