Obrigado pela hospitalidade

Despite clear public sentiment in favor of recriminalizing possession of hard street drugs in Oregon, the bobbleheads in the state legislature have only just begun hemming and hawing about it.

Yesterday two prominent state senators continued to downplay and deny the obvious need to get the criminal justice system back involved in battling the drug addiction that's destroying lives and the state's cities, especially Portland. At a hearing, these two were literally still jet-lagged from their laughable "fact-finding" junket to Portugal, hosted by the very people who pushed decriminalization on the state's unsuspecting voters. And the pair of politicians acted grateful to the drug enablers for showing them a good time.

Ahead of Monday’s hearing, an array of law-enforcement groups and city officials unveiled a list of proposals that included creating three new criminal penalties: one for possession, one for public use and another for public use in an enclosed space. The coalition pushing those changes said it would favor giving people charged with those crimes repeated chances to avoid criminal penalties if they seek treatment.

How far lawmakers might go is unclear. Some members of the committee appeared open on Monday to some type of criminal consequence for possession. [Floyd] Prozanski, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked witnesses whether it would be feasible to make low-level possession a class B or C misdemeanor, less serious than the class A designation they have asked for.

“What I’m hearing is that law enforcement needs the interventions they used to have,” he said. “It doesn’t need to be class A.”

[Curtis] Landers, the Lincoln County sheriff, disagreed, saying only a more serious misdemeanor charge would give law enforcement enough leverage to convince a person to seek treatment.

[Senator Kate] Lieber, a former prosecutor who just returned from Portugal, said she was conflicted.

“It’s the idea of criminalizing addiction,” she said. “I’m struggling with the idea of using the criminal justice system to [steer people to treatment].”

Wow. With prosecutors like Lieber, you don't need defense lawyers. It's quite apparent that neither she nor Prozanski are part of the solution here; instead, they're a big part of the problem. Until somebody gives their arms a good, sharp twist – like with a ballot measure that goes over their heads to the voters – they'll continue to have us marinating in filth, danger, and hopelessness.


  1. I don’t practice criminal law in Oregon so I’m not familiar with the penalties for DUI, but in Washington a plea of guilty results in a judgment and sentence that the defendant have an alcohol evaluation and follow through with treatment recommendations. If that’s the same as Oregon then it sounds a lot like criminalizing addiction to me. So alcohol gets focused treatment and drugs don’t.

  2. “I’m struggling with the idea of using the criminal justice system to [steer people to treatment].”

    There is something to this idea, I believe. We've off-loaded much of our human services caseload off onto cops while slashing and burning budgets behind those decisions. This is why approaches like Portland Street Response are encouraging to me. Cops aren't trained to handle this and nor should they be.

    That said, I'm not sure what kind of hammer you use on someone who's got literally nothing to lose. My anonymous friend above uses the example of DUI laws and how they effectively steer folks to treatment. True, but if you're caught behind the wheel, you generally have something to lose. I'm not sure what the stick is for someone living in a tent.

    1. The loss of your drivers license is due to administrative action not criminal action. True, the criminal action first initiates the administrative action, but after that your criminal matter and administrative matter are on two different and independent tracks neither one dependent on the other.

      If you fail to comply with the terms of your sentence you can have the suspended portion of your sentence imposed and you go to jail, which is the stick that can be used for those living in tents.

  3. What If the non- profit funds began drying up. Now, that would be something to lose.

  4. It is rumored that Lieber has big ambitions. She is likely trying to stick to the progressive party line she thinks will get her into higher office, or at least the right endorsements from the usual suspects. Maybe even campaign money from the M110 folks.

    1. I keep expecting some common sense to prevail, that eventually it will be totally obvious that those who don't want help but want to live on the streets have to be forced into treatment by punitive laws but, no, the spiral keeps going. So, I'm beginning to wonder if those folks with the "George Soros wants us dead" conspiracy theories may be on to something - I mean, do Mike Schmidt et al really think that all it's going to take is a little more time (and of course money) and we'll start to see benefits from the "give them a hug and smoking kit" approach - are they truly that naive?

  5. a) somebody seriously addicted does not have rational reasoning available- their mind has been reprogrammed by the drugs like a parasite. b) living on the streets is making their situation worse- quit pretending its a viable option. c) since a and b are true, the police/enforcement are a part of the solution because somebody has to do the tough love bit and you are dealing with non-rational people that are desperate to keep getting high at any cost, even their own lives.


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