End arrests, issue citations for small amount of pot, Philly councilman says

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A Philadelphia City Councilman wants to ease up on arrests for those caught with small amounts of marijuana. 

Councilman Jim Kenney says his bill would follow city District Attorney Seth Williams’ decision not to prosecute those found in possession of small amounts of pot. The bill would have police issue citations instead of arresting people.

“The purpose of arresting a person who is not going to be prosecuted in the first place doesn’t make any sense to me — 4,000 arrests,  $3.4 million a year in costs time police spend off the street booking the person,” Kenney said. “An arrest is a traumatic experience in the first place … you are going to arrest a juvenile, put them in handcuffs, make them spend time in lockup for something that is only going to get a fine and an education class anyway.”

The goal, Kenney said, is to still punish those with pot, but not tie up police resources.

“Arrests can be dangerous situation for both the police and the person getting arrested … somebody bolts, they get tased, a police officer turns an ankle in a chase,” he said. “Another issue for me, these kids, they have an arrest record for a year.”

After a hearing on the matter, Kenney said he’s hopeful his council colleagues will agree with him.

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