Oregon Criminal Justice Commission Racial and Ethnic Impact Statement Report
Executive Summary

Thanks to the passage of Oregon’s new law, the Drug Addiction Treatment & Recovery Act, disparities in future drug arrests and convictions will nearly be eliminated.

This finding comes following a deep analysis of the law by the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, which is comprised of the most reliable and authoritative independent government researchers on this issue.

What the report found:

  • Under Oregon’s new law, racial disparities in drug arrests are projected to drop by 95%.
  • Convictions of Black and Indigenous Oregonians will drop by 94%.
  • “This drop in convictions will result in fewer collateral consequences stemming from criminal justice system involvement, which include difficulties in finding employment, loss of access to student loans for education, difficulties in obtaining housing, restrictions on professional licensing, and others,” the report says.
  • The actual reduction of disparities could be even more dramatic. “Other disparities can exist at different stages of the criminal justice process, including inequities in police stops, jail bookings, bail, pretrial detention, prosecutorial decisions, and others.” However, the Criminal Justice Commission could not obtain local data on such disparities.

Who did the report, and who will see it:

  • The report was conducted by the most reliable and authoritative independent government researchers on this issue. The report was conducted by the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission and released by the Oregon Secretary of State.
  • The Criminal Justice Commission was not associated with the ballot measure campaign to pass the law, nor the Oregon Health Justice Recovery Alliance. It is a government body, and its purpose is to provide a “centralized and impartial forum for statewide policy development and planning” in order to “improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state and local criminal justice systems.
  • The analysis by the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission was the first one ever prepared for a ballot measure. Lawmakers have had the ability to ask for such an analysis since 2014, and did so in 2020 after being urged to do so by the More Treatment campaign, which led the effort to pass Measure 110 into law.

Political Context

In November 2020, Oregon voters made history by passing Measure 110, the Drug Addiction Treatment & Recovery Act. The new law decriminalizes personal possession of small amounts of all drugs, while expanding access to addiction treatment and other health services. The new law comes at a critical time:

  • People are dying from drug overdoses every single day, while one in 10 Oregonians struggles with Substance Use Disorder. The pandemic is only making things worse; new data from the Oregon Health Authority show that drug overdose deaths in Oregon were up 70 percent this spring compared to that same time last year.
  • People of color, specifically Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities and low-income Oregonians, continue to be disproportionately harmed by Oregon’s failed approach of treating addiction like a crime, rather than a health issue; they are underrepresented in the healthcare system, while being overrepresented in the criminal justice system.

The Drug Addiction Treatment & Recovery Act offers an innovative solution to help Oregonians and their families now, while reducing disparities and helping to create a more just criminal justice system. 

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