When White Girls Deal Drugs, They Walk

Sarah Furay was called ” adorable” and “photogenic” for allegedly selling Ecstasy, cocaine, and weed. Would that have happened to a black daughter?

Death and Taxes, the first to run a story calling Furay adorable wrote a formal apology for the mistake .

Twenty-four hours after authorities apprehended Sarah Furay on charges of narcotic possession and fabricate charges, the 19 -year-old Texan was safe at home.

Inside the bedroom of her College Station apartment police found large amounts of Ecstasy, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, and an LSD analogue. They also found packing materials and two digital scales. Following the seizure, Furay was taken to Brazos County Jail, where the evidently unruffled teen smiled for a mugshot. After posting $39,000 bail, she left.

In the days after her arrest, multiple news organizations ran stories focusing not on her crimes as much as her photogenic smile. Her scene was coined the happiest mugshot in America and the jolliest in recent history. Rather than a criminal act, her offense was called an entrepreneurial approach to avoiding student loan debt.” The icing on the cake was news( broken by Death and Taxes ) that her father is a head honcho at the local DEA officea fact that was treated more as a potential Tv plot line than a damning fact.

But while the medias virtual coddling of Furay is a story all its own, its demonstrative of an even larger problem: racial disparity in the war on drugs . The repercussions of reporters classifying a white teenage drug dealer as adorable are far different than those when law enforcement does the same. A story fueled by stereotypes can offend; an arrest fueled by the same can put individuals in prison for life.

Death and Taxes , one of the first to run a story calling Furay adorable wrote a heartfelt, formal apology for the mistake, admitting that the story missed the mark. The apology is genuine, with the editor conceding that her smile is likely related( at least in part) to the fact that the criminal justice system works to her favor.

The editor says the article was not meant to be malicious. Indeed, the story itself is far from the worst show of this phenomenon. Theres no need to use the coddling of a white teenage drug dealer in the news as proof that racial gap in the war on drugs exists when there are real life examples of African Americans spending their lives in prison for mere possession of $20 worth of pot.

In a 2009 report , Human Rights Watch found black adults to be arrested for narcotic charges at rates 2.8 to 5.5 times higher than those of white adults in every year from 1980 through 2007 the most recent for which there was data. One in three of those arrested in that time period was African American.

The study also found, as many since have as well, that although African Americans make up the majority of narcotic arrests, they are not more likely to use drugs or sell them. According to The Drug Policy Alliance, African Americans make up 30 percentage of the narcotic statute arrests, despite inducing up only 13 percentage of the U.S. population. Marijuana arrests is one of the most serious areas of racial gap, with an ACLU report observing blacks to be 3. 73 times more likely to be arrested for possession than whites.

But for many, the arrest is just the beginning. In a 2013 paper from the periodical of Legislation and Public Policy , Cynthia E. Jones found the odds of black and Latino defendants being held in jail because they were unable to make bail doubled that of whites. This isnt simply because of higher rates of unemployment. Another analyse from the Justice Policy Institute found 18 – to 29 -year old African Americans to be hit with higher bail than both whites and Latinos.

The discrimination doesnt objective there. According to narcotic policy experts, attorneys pursue mandatory minimum charges against blacks at a rate of 2: 1 when compared to whites with similar crimes. The number helps explain why 57 percentage of state prison statute violators and 77 percentage of federal are minorities.

Art Way, a senior narcotic policy administrator at The Drug Policy Alliance, says the 19 -year-old likely benefitted( and will continue to) from her ethnicity and family status. Furay has posted bond that was likely smaller than what most people of color her age would have received, and Im sure she has private counseling, he told The Daily Beast. As a outcome, she escapes pretrial detention and possibly prison through early plea bargaining.

His reaction to her arrest in general is emblematic of how rare it is for authorities to arrest of a white teen for dealing drugsdespite the fact that they do it in equal numbers( or as some research indicates, more) than black teens. It is more difficult for the tentacles of such systems to reach those like Furay, he says. Im surprised they were actually looking for her instead of her falling in their lap on accident. The truth is likely more akin to the latter.

In Ways sentiment, the roots of the racial inequality fueling the war on drugs runs deeper than unfairly targeting blacks. The overarching gap is the reality that narcotic policy is intertwined with the continued disenfranchisement of communities of color. This is the only explanation of the type of gross gap we see across the country, he says. Communities of color are the day-to-day battleground for the narcotic war.

To be sure, Furay is not off the hook. All told, shes facing at least three felony charges( two first-degree and one second-degree ). If convicted, she could expend hundreds of years in prison. Its true that a sentence that severe may not fit the crimebut then again, in the world of drug incarcerations, they rarely do.

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