These proposals are nothing more than thinly veiled efforts to criminalize poverty and homelessness. People using drugs are stuck in a cycle of despair and many literally have nowhere to go; 200 people a month are turned away from Hooper detox in Portland, and six in 10 of those who do complete detox are sent right back onto the streets after they finish the program. Arresting them will not help solve this crisis.
Rather than repackaging known, failed drug war policies, lawmakers should be doing everything they can to quickly create more detox, more treatment, to expand vital addiction services across the state, and deploy more peers to conduct street outreach and connect people with services. Just yesterday, the Oregon Health Authority released new data showing that Measure 110 service encounters have increased by nearly 300 percent, while a multi-year study by Portland State University researchers found that criminalization was not an effective way to connect people to treatment and that recriminalizing would not result in more people getting treatment in the future.
Lawmakers must stop making false promises to Oregonians that will only further harm the most vulnerable Oregonians and support the work of providers in their districts to save lives and get people into recovery. We need our leaders to invest in proven strategies that will reduce and prevent addiction, reduce homelessness, and improve public safety. Criminalization is not the way to solve the crisis on our streets.