Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Play

The pandemic compelled many teachers to integrate new technology into lesson plans, increasing the risks excessive screen time can pose to students; and there's a push in New Mexico to address LGBTQ issues.

Play

The King Day holiday is marked with calls for voting rights reform; U.S. airlines warn of disruptions from 5G mobile phone signals; and a bipartisan trip reaffirms U.S. commitment to Ukraine.

Play

New website profiles missing and murdered Native Americans; more support for young, rural Minnesotans who've traded sex for food, shelter, drugs or alcohol; more communities step up to solve "period poverty;" and find your local gardener - Jan. 29 is National Seed Swap Day.

OR Drug Decriminalization Measure Strikes at Racial Disparities in Arrests

Play

Wednesday, November 10, 2021   

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Proponents of a measure in Oregon to decriminalize possession of a small amount of drugs are hailing the reduction in arrests after its implementation this year.

Advocates say it is especially good news for communities of color, who made up a disproportionate number of drug convictions.

An Oregon Criminal Justice Commission report of 2015 data found Black Oregonians were convicted of felony drug possession at twice the rate of white Oregonians. For Native Americans, it was five times the rate.

Je Amaechi, capacity coordinator for Freedom to Thrive in Portland, was encouraged by the data.

"So just by taking that away, despite the fact that we don't really have a ton of data right now because it's brand new, we know that just arresting less people and convicting less people of felonies means better outcomes for specifically Black and native and Latinx communities," Amaechi explained.

Before decriminalization in 2019, there were more than 4,000 drug convictions. This year between February and August, there have been about 360.

However, critics say the initiative has not followed through in getting people to treatment, noting the small fraction of people who have called the hotline number on citations law enforcement gives for drug possessions.

Critics also point to the small number of people who have showed up in court after receiving citations.

Ron Williams, director of outreach, Health Justice Recovery Alliance, which was formed to implement the new measure, believes it will take a different way of thinking to properly assess the initiative's success.

"What we want to do is we want to move addiction services away from the criminal-justice frame and into the health and recovery frame," Williams urged. "By folks continuing to focus on citations and court appearances, they're still kind of in that mindset that people who use drugs should be punished."

Williams noted behavioral treatment options are growing in every county, with $30 million going out to organizations earlier this year and nearly $280 million coming soon. Importantly, he pointed out communities of color are steering the process.

"The folks who are making these decisions are people with substance-use background," Williams emphasized. "People who are alcohol and drug counselors, people who are case managers, people with lived experience of substance use disorder and are Black, brown, Latinx and tribal folks."

Disclosure: Freedom to Thrive contributes to our fund for reporting on Criminal Justice, Immigrant Issues, LGBTQIA Issues, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


get more stories like this via email
Experts say blue light inhibits melatonin production and interferes with sleep. (Reewungjunerr/Adobestock)

Health and Wellness

Statistics show thanks to the pandemic, Americans are now glued to their digital devices an average of 13 hours a day, up from 7 or 8 hours a day …


Social Issues

Today, the day after the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, comes a chance to put our ideals into action on the sixth annual National Day of Racial …

Health and Wellness

As many Virginia schools pivot back to temporary virtual learning, some students are spending more time in front of screens. In response, the …


Oil and natural-gas production is the largest industrial source of methane pollution in the country. (Adobe Stock)

Environment

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting public comments through the end of this month regarding a proposal which would sharply reduce m…

Environment

Connecticut has secured its first National Estuarine Research Reserve along part of the state's Long Island Sound. Conservationists applaud the news …

If a constitutional amendment makes it onto the ballot and passes in November, Missouri will join Maine and Alaska, which both use ranked-choice voting for statewide elections. (Burlingham/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

A ballot initiative in Missouri is seeking to change the way statewide elections are run. Currently, in the Show-Me State, there are party primaries …

Environment

Proposed legislation would end subsidies for wood-burning power plants in Massachusetts by removing biomass as an eligible fuel source for the Commonw…

Social Issues

New Mexico's short, 30-day legislative session starts today with a focus on budget issues. Nonetheless, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021