Oregon’s drug decriminalization aimed to make police a gateway to rehab, not jail. State leaders failed to make it work – OPB

Ballot Measure 110, approved by voters in 2020, created a new role for law enforcement in Oregon. While there’s evidence people living with addiction in the state are increasingly finding their way into treatment, the failure to turn police encounters into successful on-ramps to rehab has been cited by critics as prime evidence the measure isn’t working. Oregon lawmakers, noting an ongoing rise in overdose deaths, are now looking to restore jail time for drug possession.

But Oregon’s political leaders themselves played central roles in failing to deliver on the potential for law enforcement to connect people with lifesaving services under the new measure, documents and interviews with a wide array of people involved in the system indicate.

The Legislature, the court system and the bureaucracy under two governors ignored or rejected proposed solutions as seemingly straightforward as designing a specialized ticket to highlight treatment information. They declined to fund a proposed $50,000 online course that would have instructed police officers on how to better use the new law. They took no action on recommendations to get police, whose leaders campaigned against the ballot measure, talking with treatment providers after decriminalization passed.

Full story: Oregon’s drug decriminalization aimed to make police a gateway to rehab, not jail. State leaders failed to make it work – OPB

4 Replies to “Oregon’s drug decriminalization aimed to make police a gateway to rehab, not jail. State leaders failed to make it work – OPB”

  1. Oregon has been a leading state in regards to shifting the focus on rug use from punitive to rehabilitative. With being one of the first, Oregon faced significant challenges while attempting to combat wide spread substance abuse. The main foundation of the inititiave was to equip law enforcement as a gateway to rehab rather than jail, using compassion and support to combat substance abuse disorder. the execution fell short due to various factors such as inadequate funding, limited resources, and systemic barriers. If our country standed as a united front with the same goal as Oregon, would the intivtae been more successful the first time? How can a shift toward rehabilitation-focused approaches improve community trust in law enforcement and promote a more compassionate and equitable criminal justice system?

    1. A system focused on rehabilitation at a country wide level would be a game changer in helping the relationships between communities and police. Seeing the cops as potential resources for help rather than a threat for simple drug use would create a more healthy environment for everyone. However, even with proper funding and resources, it will take a big change in how we hire members of law enforcement, as well as how the system operates in general, to make any rehab initiative successful.

      1. Rehabilitation would definitely be beneficial and a better solution as opposed to incarceration. Not only for the sake of the relationship between the police officer and the offender but for the sake of their own well-being. Not only will the individual be treated better in rehabilitation, but they will be in an environment focusing solely on bettering their own lifestyle and health. Rehabilitation is a good source for resolving the solution from the root rather than from where the person was found. Although this process will have its obstacles financially and politically, the outcome will be worth it. Big changes such as this one take time and effort.

  2. Do these regulations for drug decriminalization violate the safety of the average person. Whilst rehabilitation is arguably a better method of tackling drug use, does the legal use of drugs, and their possible public use pose a threat to the general public? Many states have seen this widespread public use, in areas such as bus stops and parks. Whilst this approach of decriminalization does have a positive impact on over policing and the issue with and over incarceration, the possible downsides are not to be ignored. Hopefully, with a more careful and limited approach, both issues can be addressed.

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