After a national study showing that New Jersey’s African-Americans were 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites — despite similar rates of use — the New Jersey American Civil Liberties Union decided to study whether it could find a similar trend for other low-level offenses. The organization selected four municipalities — Jersey City, Elizabeth, New Brunswick, and Millville — and reviewed 10 years of records obtained through the Open Public Records Act.
The state ACLU found racial disparities in all four municipalities. In Jersey City, blacks are 9.6 percent more likely to be arrested than whites for offenses like loitering, marijuana possession, disorderly conduct, and trespassing. In Millville, the rate was 6.3 times greater. In Elizabeth it was 3.4 times greater; New Brunswick, 2.6 times.
The disparity between Latinos and whites is also high but not all of the municipalities kept records to track it.