PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) — Ballot Measure 110, known as the Drug Treatment and Recovery Act, was supposed to provide greater access to drug treatment for Oregonians struggling with addiction by funding treatment and behavioral services . More than a year after its implementation, some local law enforcement officials believe the measure is backfiring.
Before voters passed Ballot 110, opponents predicted that drug decriminalization would lead to increased crime and cripple law enforcement on drug-related activity. Crime has actually increased in the Portland area, and while they say it’s hard to point to Ballot 110 as the cause, they say it’s hard to argue that things have gotten better.
In the year since it took effect, Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton said he hadn’t seen those results.
“The 110 vote measure was a Trojan horse,” he said. “People who voted for him were led to believe they would increase access to treatment.”
Instead, Barton said his office has seen an overall increase in crime, particularly property crimes.
“Crimes like car theft, car break-ins, catalytic converter theft. Things that really impact the quality of life for ordinary Oregonians.
Barton said he couldn’t say for sure that the BA 110 caused the increase in crime, but he said he tied the hands of law enforcement.
“Before, the first step was someone was basically caught using an illegal drug and the police could interact with that person at that time and we could provide treatment and supervision,” he said. he declares. “The first stage has now been removed from the criminal justice process, so there’s really no way to require people to engage in this treatment.”
Tera Hurst, executive director of the Health Justice Recovery Alliance, sees things differently.
“We know from OHA reports that in six months, 16,000 Oregonians were able to access care,” she said.
Hurst said part of the point behind BA 110 is that the war on drugs hasn’t worked.
“We’ve seen study after study that shows forced treatment doesn’t work, but it can also be very harmful,” Hurst said. “We also showed that when you put barriers on someone, permanent barriers like criminalization, you don’t have access to jobs, housing, education, bank accounts.”
As for the crime argument, Hurst said crime is increasing across the country, not just in Oregon.
“What Ballot Measure 110 did was decriminalize petty drug possession. It did not decriminalize the crimes,” she said.
But Barton said drug addicts often commit crimes to fuel their habits.
“So now we have to wait for them to commit a bigger crime. We have to wait for them to steal a car. Wait for them to break into a car, break into a house, assault someone,” a- he declared.
But Hurst said the state is starting to fund more treatment services and that, despite the slow rollout of funds so far, access to treatment will improve.
“We are 50th in the country for access to services. Services were not there. Period,” she said. “We still need to build our way down to ground level and then keep building so we can see and feel the impact of a robust system”
Barton freely admits the War on Drugs and the system that preceded Ballot Measure 110 was flawed. He thinks the new system needs some tweaks, including better data collection and some kind of penalties for people who refuse treatment.
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