I’ve lived in beautiful Bend for over a decade now, after previously working as a prosecutor in Chicago where I saw the futility of arresting and prosecuting people for nonviolent minor drug offenses. Looking at all of the evidence, it is clear that instead of punishing people for their drug addiction, a more humane and effective policy would be providing treatment and recovery services instead of harsh punishments.
Harmful drug arrests disproportionately hurt poor people and communities of color, hindering people’s ability to get a quality education, secure a good job, or acquire sufficient housing. The criminal record can be a lifelong bar to opportunity. At the same time, punishing people for small amounts of drugs does not make communities safer from addiction and overdose.