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February 1, 2024 38 mins

Robert sits down with city defense attorney Grant Hartley to talk about the battle over Oregon's historic decision to decriminalize drugs.

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
All media, welcome back to it could happen here.

Speaker 2 (00:11):
I am, once again Robert Evans talking about it happening
here and in the case of today, because we mean
something different every time I introduce the show. That way,
we're talking about the carcerral state and the worst reactive
impulses of society coming for people who use drugs recreationally,
who either have a problem or don't with them and

simply don't want to go to prison for it. And
specifically we're talking about all of that within the context
of the state of Oregon, where I reside, because back
in twenty twenty, the state of Oregon passed a measure,
the first in the nation, decriminalizing all simple possession and
use of street drugs. So heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana was already legal,

but you know everything is. You can't get arrested for
simple posession of small amounts of stuff, right, That's the
gist of the law. This passed by a pretty wide margin,
fifty eight points something percent of Oregonians voted for it.
It was a ballot measure, not something the legislature pushed through,
and it came as Oregon, like the rest of the country,

was kind of wrapped in the grip of an escalating
drug crisis. In twenty twenty, and again that's before the
ballot measure passed, Oregon had the second highest rate of
drug addiction in the country and ranked nearly last in
access to treatment. From twenty nineteen to twenty twenty, opioid
overdose deaths in Oregon increased by about seventy percent. So

that makes the case that the problem prior to the
ballot measure was pretty severe and that the current state
of affairs, which was everything was illegal and you could
go to jail for possession of, say, heroin, was not
working out for anybody. However, in the years since the
ballot measure passed, overdoses have continued to rise in Oregon,
and miraculously, almost the drug problem did not solve itself overnight.

Now we're gonna be talking about some reasons for that.
But now it is time for me to introduce our
guest for the episode, Oregon Public Defender Grant Hartley Grant,
Welcome to the show. Yeah, thanks for having me, Robert, Yeah, yeah, yeah. So,
first off, I wanted to say, from where you're standing
as somebody whose job is to represent Oregonians generally with
the least resources who were charged with crimes. What were

you saying prior to one ten and what are you
saying after it?

Speaker 1 (02:26):
Well, I think prior to one ten, we had, you know,
a population similar to what we have now, which is
individuals who were struggling with houselessness, with housing instability, who
were struggling with mental health. And as a result of
many of those factors and others were copied with substances,

and as a result of that, many of them would
get wrapped into the legal system. And one of the
issues with our legal system is that it is based
on and so when someone came into the system with
a drug problem, our first reaction is to compel them
into treatment, to force them into treatment, even though we

know that that is not effective, and you know at
times it can be. And generally where you see the
most success with it is where there's more hanging over
the person's head, more leverage that the system has. And so,
you know, somebody who has a substance use disorder and
commits a robbery and is put on probation, and they

have a choice between going to prison and doing treatment,
much more likely to engage in treatment. But when you
have low level possession, where as a society we've deemed
that that should not be punished by prison, and frankly
that should not be punished by jail. The problem is
is that the only tool that the system has is jail,

and so if somebody says I'm not ready for treatment,
the system says, well, we're going to put you in
jail then, and then they go to jail, what little
they have is destabilized and they get out without any treatment.
And as you mentioned in the opening, the biggest thing
is just the incredible dearth of services in our community.
There is not nearly enough outpatient treatment, but especially in

patient treatment, and that's important for those houseless folks, because
you can't expect somebody to engage in outpatient treatment and
then go back and sleep on the street at night
and not use So I know that's I think the
general gist of what it looked like.

Speaker 2 (04:34):
Yeah, I think that's all really important to keep in mind,
and it's particularly important the reason we're doing this episode
is because the last two years really is when it's escalated.
We have seen this increasing and very organized campaign against
One ten and it's being pushed by the police who
are angry that they're not able to arrest more people,
particularly more homeless people. It's pushed by a lot of

business owners who have convinced themselves that the reason why
downtown port That has had such a hard couple of
years is because there's too many homeless people and they
can go after them and get them off the street
by having them arrested. This is all my opinion, not
yours here, but there has been What is not up
for opinion is that there has been an escalating campaign
to portray the measure as a disaster and to portray
it as the center of particularly Portland's ills, but also

more broadly the state of Oregon's ills. And I think
there's a number of reasons why that's dishonest, which we'll
talk about. But where that's kind of culminated now is
this year. There are two big pushes to get rid
of one ten. One of them is the push by
a ballot measure, or to put out a ballot measure
basically repealing one ten as it exists, and the other

is a push by the legislature. And you kind of
have separate plans pushed by the DIMS and the Republicans
to in the case of the Republican plan, basically put
things back to the way they were, if not more
severe in terms of your ability to arrest people for possession.
And the Democrats' plans is to recriminalize possession but make
it all basically the lowest level of misdemeanor. I don't

think either of those are good plans, But I wanted
to talk about kind of how you would characterize the
backlash campaign against one ten and how much of it
do you think is rooted in actual problems caused by
the measure?

Speaker 1 (06:13):
No, I mean it is caused the most of the backlash.
I would agree with you that it is a lot
of business communities, but it's also just you know, average
Portlanders because what they see is people on the streets struggling,
using drugs in public because that is the only place
that they can use drugs, and you know, that's a

problem of houselessness. They people have to ask themselves, am
I upset that I'm seeing somebody use drugs? Or am
I upset that this person is sleeping on the street
and needing to use the drugs in the street. And
that is the same of business owners. You know, they
call and complain that there's somebody on the stoop next
to them using fentanyl, But is the issue that that
person is using fentanyl or is the issue that that

person is on the stoop next to them? Because there
are no housing services in our city, and so really
Measure one ten is being scapegoaded for two huge issues,
which is the influx of synthetic heroin or fentanyl into
our community and into every community around the nation. It
is not restricted to Portland or to Oregon because we decriminalized,

it is everywhere. And then just the houselessness crisis, which
is tremendous in our city. It is so bad, and
people are essentially arguing that because we decriminalize drugs, more
people are on the street, and I just don't think
that there is any data to support that.

Speaker 2 (07:44):
Yeah, And I think part of the reason why people
suspect that is again because of how much dramatically worse
the problem has gotten in recent years. But it's gotten
worse everywhere. It's gotten worse in states like Oklahoma, where
it is and has remain very illegal to possess this stuff.
Oregon is not the state with the worst death problem

due to drugs per capita and the states that are
worse or are worse in various ways, are all states
in which it's criminalized. It's very frustrated to me when
you look at like, well, we passed one ten in
twenty twenty, and these problems have gotten worse since, and
it's like, well, but these are all problems that have
gotten worse everywhere, and they're problems that are not driven
by legality or at least the fact that it's no
longer criminal to possess heroin. It's driven by the fact

that we had a horrible pandemic that traumatized people. They
lost loved ones, they lost jobs, they lost support. It's
driven by the fact that the price of housing continues
to rise. It's driven by inflation. It's driven by the
fact that, I mean, to no small part, everybody's got
brain worms from social media. That's not a zero percent
factor in both people's anger at the houseless and in

the fact that people are falling through the cracks. Like
we have a million different things. I don't mean the
list that is a comprehensive list of our problems either,
like drug addiction and drug deaths due to overdoses are
caused by a variety of things. And one of the
reasons why the death rate has been so high is
that if you're addicted to heroin, you can't just stop

doing heroin or the consequences are really, really horrible, worse
than a lot of people are going to deal with.
And so people keep using, and they keep getting drugs
that have been tainted with fentanyl, and it's hard not
to die doing that. Like, rich people can continue to
test their kids. People who are you know, have had
the benefit of not just education, but a stable home

in which to do drugs and sort of the resources
to know and to be able to test their shit,
will test their shit. But most street level users don't
have that kind of option. And it frustrates me that
it's all getting scapegoaded on this ballot measure, And so
I wanted to talk a little bit about how they're
attempting to go after one ten because it looks like

right now the primary threat is legislative, in part because
if they push another ballot measure, Oregonians get to vote
and we'll see how they vote. But reversing it by ten,
you know, almost a ten percent lead, is not an
easy thing to do. And I kind of think Oregonians
might surprise them in terms of not being willing to
repeal this thing legislatively. We don't have really that kind

of option against it. If they're able to get a
kind of enough people behind an essential repeal, and they'll
frame it as you know, we're just trying to tinker
with the law to make it work better. But if
they can get enough people behind that, there's really nothing
to do about it, right, Yeah, Yeah.

Speaker 1 (10:30):
And I think you know, one of the things that,
in my opinion was a strategy on the part of
the opponents of one ten was I mean, they have
some very wealthy financial backers, yes, and so you know
it is not cheap to do a ballot measure, and
you know, they know that they can use that money
to do media buys and to spread all of the

misinformation that they've been spreading thus far. And I think
that frankly, there are people in the legislature that don't
want to recriminalize but feel that it is the lesser
of two evils. And the unfortunate thing is that what
we are essentially doing is delivering them a watered down
version of that ballot measure. And they were intentional in
that ballot measure. I mean, they made it as bad

as could be that it includes more than just recriminalization.
You know, it includes what is commonly known as lend
bias law in federal courts, which is essentially that people
who deliver a substance that causes an overdose can be
prosecuted essentially for murder. And it is a archaic understanding

of how the distribution of drugs works or the testing
of drugs works, And so they tried to make it
as bad as possible in order for the legislature to
essentially go, well, we don't want that to happen. And
you know I would worry about a ballot measure. I mean,
I agree with you that it's a big swing, and
I have faith in the voters of Oregon. But the

fact is is that the media has portrayed this very unfair.
You know, there was there was an article recently from
the editorial board at the Oregonian and they advocated for recriminalization,
and in it they cited that they want a data
driven approach. There was not a piece of data in
that article. It was all based on misinformation. And the

same is true. I mean, law enforcement are the worst
about this. You know, they're they're constantly saying, oh, well,
we just want tools so that we can confiscate the
drugs and so that we can refer people to treatment,
because we all know that's all police officers want to do.
And yet when you look at the E citations that
came out of Measure one ten, those were meant as

to be a referral tool. And that was one of
the big mistakes of one ten is trying to use
police officers as an ambassador for treatment. There is a
culture in the police community that it treats drugs as crimes. Right,
you are a criminal if you are a drug user,
and I am not. You know, I'm not saying police
are monolith. I'm saying that is the culture that exists.

And to expect them to change that overnight because the
voters said they wanted to decriminalize was rather naive and
it's obvious because just here in Maltnoma County, I think
in basically a twenty four month period they issued something
like nine hundred E citations or that was during a
thirty month period, excuse me. And during a twenty four

month period in twenty eighteen and twenty nineteen, they arrested
more than thirty three hundred people on PCs and that
is what nearly three times more than three times as
many people when they were able to put handcuffs on
the people that they were meeting with, and Maltnoma County
was actually better than a most you look at Washington County,

seventy one et citations in thirty months. Seventy one tickets
were given on this and the ticket was supposed to
be the tool by which somebody is referred to treatment.
And so you know, in some ways measure one to
ten heads and serious structural and implementation issues, but that
doesn't mean that we just go back to what the

voters saw.

Speaker 2 (14:07):
One of the things that was the biggest issue in
implementation is that a lot of funds were supposed to
be redirected, I think from marijuana sales was one of
the places to treatment facilities and treatment options for people
like these people who are supposed to be getting tickets
instead of arrested for drug use were supposed to being
kind of pushed gently towards options, but the actual money

for those options took more than a year to start arriving,
and it is still not at a very good clip.
And there's a number of reasons for this. But like
when they frame it as like will be decriminalized stuff,
and all these problems kept getting worse, It's like, well,
for one thing, they kept getting worse. They were getting
worse when everything was illegal at a rapid pace. And
number two, you didn't do what was supposed to be

half of the measure, which was increasing the amount of
care that people had access to.

Speaker 1 (14:52):
Yeah. Absolutely, And would to hear people talk about it now.
I mean during a legislative committee, I think there was
one representative or senator who say to take well, why
did it take so long for this to get implemented?
It was twenty twenty and twenty twenty one. Like people
are quickly forgetting how chaotic things were that And the
other thing is that when you put that money into

the system, it takes a while to build beds, to
hire people to do that. And what the opponents of
one ten are doing, what the people seeking to recriminalize
or doing, and they're really preying on our collective impatience.
It's they're saying, oh, well, you know, nobody is going
and voluntarily engaging in treatment, therefore we must mandate it

and again, no one's voluntarily engaging in treatment because there's
no treatment available to voluntarily engage in. And the idea
that by making it criminal we can somehow fix that
is actually counterproductive because we're taking all those funds that
we could be putting into additional services into outreach, and
we're instead putting it back into law enforcement or into probation,

or into the jails or into the state lab to
test these drugs.

Speaker 2 (16:00):
And I want to continue off of that, and I
want to talk bring out some more data too, but
first we have to go do a plug to ads.
So here's ads, folks, all right, we are back. We're back,

And I wanted to I think there's two really good
things to keep in mind when as an Oregonian you're
arguing with friends and family about one ten or if
you're outside of the state and people bring it up
because they saw like a three minute piece on Fox
News where some smarmy asshole talk to a guy on
the street, you know you should be aware of a
couple of things. Number One, when people talk about how
it's not working, the thing that you should bring up

is like, what about the forty years or so of
criminalization prior like that led us to this point and
at which the acceleration in deaths was highest. And the
other thing to bring up is, well, there's these claims
that like public disorder, drug use, all this stuff, overdose
deaths have gotten worse since one ten. There's no evidence
that that's the case, right, And there was in fact

a study into this by New York University that found
no evidence of an association between decriminalization and fatal overdose
rates in Oregon and Washington. And want to I want
to read a couple of quotes from that study. So,
first off, quote, publicly available calls for service data were
used to compare Portland's use of the nine to one
one system to Boise, Idaho, Sacramento, California, and Seattle, Washington,

before and after one ten. This was between twenty eighteen
and twenty twenty two. Public initiated calls for service did
not change after BM one ten was enacted in Portland.
Portland's nine one one calls for service data align with
comparison cities for property, disorderly and vice offenses with similar
seasonally fluctuations. So, for one thing, what you'll notice is
that a lot of the articles about one ten started

to hit both when we would have winter weather come
in and summer weather come in. Both of those lead
the surges in overdoses and drug use. Because the weather's shitty, right,
people have less to do, less options, and especially if
you're living outside it's one hundred during the day or
it's twelve, maybe you want to do drugs more because
you're uncomfortable.

Speaker 1 (18:06):

Speaker 2 (18:07):
Yeah, So again I think that it's important. There's this
study from New York University on one ten and you know,
it's lack of impact on this stuff. That shouldn't be
the final word on this. I'm certain there will be
more studies, but that is a word on this, and
they simply have no data well on their side of things.

Speaker 1 (18:24):
You know, there's another study as well. I mean, you know,
there's a study out of Portland State University and it's interesting.
It was a follow up study. The full report has
not been released yet, but they did release some of
their key findings and it was in the first year
PSU met with officers and interviewed them about their perceptions

of one ten and how it was going. As you
might imagine, officers didn't think it was going well, and
they said oh, well, violent crime has increased, and property
crime is increased, and overdoses are increased in all because
of one ten. And what this report found is that
is not true. There was an uptick and property crime,
but we cannot say that that has been a result
of one ten for years. You need a lot of

data in order to look at that. And so, you know,
this idea, and I mean, the ultimate finding of that
study was that it is too early to recriminalize. It
based on the data, it is too early to recriminalize.
And so but again, you know, I think that instead
what we are relying on is people's fear and what
people see in the street. And you know, I think

it's also this idea. I mean, the reason we are
having this discussion, in my opinion, is two things. One
is public use, right, individuals using them the street. It's
in people's faces. Nobody really cares when someone is in
the warmth of their own home using Fentanyl's when they're
on the street.

Speaker 2 (19:45):
Or I should note when someone's in the White House
using fentanyl, because it just came out that the president
and high staff were prescribed fentanyl and ketamine in the
White House when Trump was in office.

Speaker 1 (19:53):
So yeah, absolutely, but no one really cares about that.
It's when it's in your face that people can. And
the other one is the perception that crime is. You
know that again, a lot of crime is caused by
drug use, right, there is an underlying association there. But
the idea of criminalizing drugs because of that is the

idea that you can somehow arrest somebody, compel them into
treatment and therefore prevent crimes. Yeah. That I mean, that's
like the pre cog the sci fi sort of things.
It's it is a backward system.

Speaker 2 (20:27):
No, and we actually know what will stop the drug
related crimes, which are mostly theft, right, And one of
the things that will and they've seen this, I believe
it's the Netherlands that if you're a heroin addict, the
government will give you free heroin. You have to take
it at a center like you go in, you sign
a thing and you get your dose and you take
it there. That saves them money based on doing nothing,

because when they do nothing, people break into houses and cars,
et cetera, and boats because it's it's the Netherlands in
order to steal shits so that they can not get
dope sick and just giving the dope to them winds
uprusting a lot less per addict.

Speaker 1 (21:01):
Well, the other thing that gets people clean or that
stops people from committing crimes is housing, is providing them
a roof over their head. I mean, when people are
even if they're not on the street, if they are
housing and stable, they're trying to make a living and
it is not easy to do so with whether it's
a felony record or you're you know, your upbringing or

whatever reason has held you back. If they have housing.
I mean, there are numerous studies that show that when
you put somebody in housing, their likelihood of using drugs drops,
their likelihood of committing crimes drops. And yet we are
focused on this recriminalization rather than trying to house these individuals.

Speaker 2 (21:45):
Yeah, and it's you know, when you talk about this,
when you talk about decriminalization in Oregon's context, there's a
good reason for this. People talk about Portugal, Portugal, Spain
also did this, both Portugal and Spain. And I believe
Portugal was first decriminalized simple possession and use quite a
while ago. It's been that way in Portugal for I
think like twenty years. Like they have a significant amount

of data on it right, and Oregonians, the people who
were pushing for one ten, cited it specifically as like
a reason why this was worthwhile. There was recently, I
think last year, some state officials and whatnot went to
Portugal to look into the system, and so as a result,
you've seen like attacks on the Portuguese drug system, including
there was a recent Washington Post article about how Portugal

starting to regret it, They're going to recriminalize maybe, And
the reality of the situation is that there was has
been a recent surge in illicit drug use in Portugal
from seven point eight percent in two thousand and one
to twelve point eight percent in twenty twenty two. That
is an increase. It's still below the average in most
of Western Europe. It's lower than France and Italy. I

believe it's lower than the UK, It's lower than like
most of Western Europe. And I just kind of pointing
out the fact that Portugal is also dealing with an
increase in drug use. Again, saying that that's because of
the couture of decriminalization seems silly when there have been
corresponding surges everywhere where it's illegal. But beyond that, it
ignores the fact that there have been really significant benefits

that we do know our benefits of decriminalization because of
how long we've been looking at it. From two thousand
to two thousand and eight, prison populations in Portugal fell
by almost seventeen percent. Overdose rates dropped because in part
they funded rehabilitation, which Oregon still has not really done.
There was no surge in use, and in fact less
people seem to die when the system changed, right. What

has increased is some drug derelated debris. Particularly, Most of
the surges have been in the last literally the last
couple of years, which again makes me think it is
tied to the global trends that have made a lot
of people more miserable and living in a more difficult
situation and at more risk of drug addiction. What happens
in Portugal politically hard to say, but overall, decriminalization we

have a lot of data for seems to have largely
been a success. And if that's kind of what we
were to see in Oregon with decriminalization, I would be happy,
even if there's more mess on the streets, although I
don't think that that's inevitable. And this gets us to
what I think is kind of the most dangerous point
that the opposition, the people who want to recriminalize make,
And it's dangerous because it seems like they have a

good point, which is people shouldn't be people with families,
just regular people should not have to see folks using
hard drugs on the street as they walk around town.
And I agree it is not reasonable to expect people
to walk with their kids to school past somebody shooting
up heroin or smoking crack. It's fine, and you're not
like a some sort of like narker party pooper if

you don't want your kids to see that. But that's
already illegal, because it's like it's illegal to drink a
beer on the street in Portland. The problem is not
that the cops can't do anything about it, it's that, again,
they're choosing not to do anything about it. Yeah, no, absolutely,
I mean, and again it is the issue of we
have people living on the streets, right, I mean, it

is I completely agree that people shouldn't have to walk
past that, but maybe that is an opportunity to talk
to their child about the need to make sure that
people have a safe place to live. And also, I mean,
it's Also, you know, if we had safe use locations,
you wouldn't see nearly as much of that. And frankly,

the system would have a better argument for punishing public
use if we had safe use areas, because we have
put so many people on the street. Yes, somebody who
has no place to be and is desperate and it
is addicted, using in a place where you can see
them is understandable. Somebody who has options for places to
be and is choosing to do it in front of people,

that's a bit of a different case. And again I
also want to just really, because I've encountered this in
arguments about one ten with people. It did not make
it legal to do drugs in public. That remains illegal.
It's illegal to drink a beer in public.

Speaker 1 (26:00):
Absolutely, Yeah, public use is I mean, but again, these
are sort of the narratives that are being perpetuated by
and a lot of it is is law enforcement and
and honestly, my take on it is that law enforcement
doesn't really care about recriminalizing possession. They don't. What they
want is they want the ability to search people. What

what that gives them is it gives them the right
to say, hey, I have problem, cause to believe that
you have drugs on you. Therefore I'm gonna search you.
I'm gonna search your car, I'm gonna you know, search
your house. Right, it gives them that ability, and they,
you know, many of them will be very forthright about that.
And the biggest infringements on our personal privacy, on our

Fourth Amendment rights, on our protected privacy interest has always
been drugs. It has always been the criminalization of drugs
has eroded our privacy interest. And and that is that's
what's really at play here because I don't I don't
think the officers I mean, and this is again not

a monolith I'm saying, I don't think in general law
enforcement really is that concerned with, you know, getting individuals
off the street and into treatment. If that were the case,
we would have seen far more of those E citations,
you know, we would see the officers doing there. There

is a statute that allows them to transport people to detox, right,
we don't see that that often because really, what is
that issue here is the ability to search people based
on probable cause that they possess drugs.

Speaker 2 (27:42):
Yeah, yeah, and we will we will talk about what
people can do if they want to stop the recriminalization
of drugs in Oregon. But first, here's some more ads.

We're back, so Grant kind of the question I am
left with at the end of this here is what
do we do to fight back against this? What is
actually what is go? What are the options people have?
Obviously the thing that first occurs to me that is
most successible is make a fuss to your elected leaders
so you know that this is something you'll think about
come vote in season. But first off, how would people

do that?

Speaker 1 (28:29):
I guess Yeah, I mean, you know, figure out who
your legislator is, you know, write to them, call them,
let them know that you know, you want to see,
you know, realistic fixes to this. You want to see
investment in public health, in outreach through pure navigators and
case managers that you don't want to see us return

to the same war on drugs that has failed.

Speaker 2 (28:54):
Yeah, it's it's hard, I will say if you're looking
to do research outside of like a lot of a
lot of local news, this is a hard time for
local news. Well, good local reporting gets done in a
number of places, including Oregon. Also, a lot of smaller
local news agencies are very much in the pocket of
the people who helped to fund them, which is some
of the people funding the attempt to repeal. So if

one of the better articles that has been written recently
was in the New Yorker, it's great. Yeah, there's a
I'm pulling it up right now. There's a great New
Yorker piece, a New Drug War in Oregon, that was
published just this month, probably the best major outlet piece
I've seen on it. And yeah, it's It talks a

lot about the STAB and Wagon, which is a kind
of independent although they've now should at some point theoretically
be getting a significant amount of funding. But like they
provide drug users not just with you know, naloxone or narcan,
but with safe use materials like syringes and stuff that
are clean. This is down in the south of Oregon,
in a place called Medford, which has both one of

Oregon's worst drug problems and also is much more conservative areas.
So obviously these people are very controversial, and I will say,
you know, one of the things this article does well
is they get at, even within people who are supportive
of one ten, the conflict between kind of traditional addiction
recovery resources and organizations and some of these often these

new organizations are either started by or run by people
who have or do currently deal with addiction, and I
think covering that conflict is valuable. There's some stuff that
frustrates me about it, and this is I think there's
a lot of negativity towards stab and Wagon and its
founder that's unfair. I also think some of the things
that she has said about traditional addiction recovery resources are

very unfair from her point of view. And I think
when I look at the problem, the only comprehensive solution
is multiple options for different kinds of people. Because I
know a lot of people who have dealt with addiction
and recovered and no two of them did it the
same way.

Speaker 1 (30:54):
Yeah, No, absolutely, And I mean I think that you know,
both of those are necessary, right harm. What I always
says that the beauty of harm reduction is that not
only does it ensure that somebody survives long enough to
make it to recovery, but it also builds a relationship
with that person. It builds a relationship of trust so

that you can have a conversation about the need for recovery.
You know, as a public defender, I don't get the
benefit of the prosecutor or the court to or probation
to wield power and to make my client do what
they should do. Because I'm holding power over them, I
have to build trust, right, I have to have a
relationship of trust with them, and I have to find

out what motivates that individual and try to utilize that
to encourage positive steps. Right, And that's true of our
case managers and social workers that work with us, and
that's that's what the system doesn't have, right. The system
is just trying to use the threat of incarceration in
order to get individuals who are not ready for recovery

to engage in recovery. And that that's detrimental. I mean,
we need we need both harm reduction and we need
traditional treatment. We need culturally competent treatment. You know, there
needs to be wrap around services. And that's one of
my concerns here is that you know, we know that
the criminal legal system's work. One ten pasted, we had

a drug court that dealt with low level possession and
its graduation rate was around seventeen percent, So seventeen percent
to people, and graduation meant ninety days of sobriety, and
that was seventeen percent of people that other eighty three
percent if they fail out a program. Again, the only
tool the system has is jail, and so all they

did was did not hook them up with services and
instead eventually punish them for not being ready for treatment.
And that is not how we get people into recovery.

Speaker 2 (32:53):
Yeah, I think that that's a really good point when
I when I talk about both how people can help
if a loved one is starting to do with drug
addiction and when someone if someone you love is getting
into a cult or getting pulled into conspiracy theories, it's
actually the same advice. I had a friend come to
me recently because I loved one of theirs was starting
to kind of talk about some really concerning conspiracy theory stuff, right,

and they were like, what do I say against this?
How do I argue against it? And my answer was like, well,
you don't really You make it clear, like, hey, I
don't really believe this, I don't find this compelling, but
like you know, I love you and I'm always here
to listen if you want to talk about this kind
of stuff or you want to talk about whatever. And
that is the same if someone's starting to get pulled
into a cult or if they're dealing with drugs, because,

as you noted, if they have a pathway out and
they're not going to have to it's not this kind
of thing where you've been yelling at them and may
and then they they have to come to you with
their head tail between their legs and like I was wrong,
I fucked up. That's a barrier. If like, well, this
this person cares about me and is always going to
be like willing to you know, talk with me, like

no matter what, well then that's less of a barrier.
Then you're not You haven't built a wall that they
have to get through. They can just come to you
when they're like I need help exactly.

Speaker 1 (34:11):
I mean it's based in relationships, and I mean that's
that's one of the issues, right, is that too many people,
not just Importland but everywhere, see individuals on the street
and assume the worst and see them as the other.
They don't see them as part of the community, and
so they're more than fine with a system locking them

up because of their addiction. And you know, we all
need to recognize that, you know it that falling into
that lifestyle, you know, whether whether it is because of
you know, where you were raised, how you were raised.
You know, whether you got addicted to pills because your
doctor prescribed them, there's a lot of reasons, whether you

had childhood trauma, there's a lot of reasons why people
get an addiction. And you know, to simply assume that
because they're addicted to drugs is a criminal, a bad person,
you know, it is making them the other. And it's
so much easier to be punitive when you're just seeing

that person as the other.

Speaker 2 (35:14):
Yeah, and I did want to note if people are
looking for resources online both about one ten and how
they can help in the fight to stop it from
getting repealed, you can go to h JR, the Health
Justice Recovery Alliance. They have you can sign up to
get information from them. They have community resources, they have

like updates on what's going on. I think you can
find through them a way to like automatically kind of
send a form message to your elected leaders. So just
google Health Justice Recovery Alliance Oregon or Health Justice Recovery
Alliance one ten and that will take you there. They've
got a lot of stuff collected there, both resources if
you're having arguments with people about this, and information on

how you can help least try to do something.

Speaker 1 (36:01):
Yeah, And I will say also the ACLU has been
very active in this as well. And you know, they
have an action plan on their website that you know,
tells you some of the things that you can do
in this and and you know, like I said, I mean,
I I think obviously contacting your legislators where we haven't
even started the legislation or the legislative session yet, and

so there is still room to change this and to
at least make it less bad, which you know it's
these days sometimes it feels like less bad is the
is the goal that we need to strive for.

Speaker 2 (36:34):
It's harm reduction again, Like that's how I tend to
look at the legislative side of things. Well, everybody that's
going to do it for us here at it could
happen here, Grant, thank you so much. Should you have
anything you wanted to plug or direct listeners towards before
we roll out here?

Speaker 1 (36:49):
I mean, I think again, it's just you know, go
to the ACLU website, go to hha's website, get involved.
But more than just that, no matter what happens during
this legislative session, you know, remember that all of these
folks on the street are people and they need assistance,

and you know, and they need help and continue or
consider you know, contributing to a recovery organization, or volunteering
to go out into the community. You know, if you
have lived experience with addiction, consider becoming a peer. It
is so impactful to have individuals who have struggled with

substance use go out in the community and engage individuals
who are currently struggling with it. And that is the
best trust building that it's the best way to get
people into recovery, not through handcuffs in jails.

Speaker 2 (37:43):
Thank you very much, Grant. I couldn't agree more. All Right, everybody,
that's it for us today. We'll be back tomorrow with
more of it happening here. It could Happen here as
a production of cool Zone Media. More podcasts from cool
Zone Media, visit our website coolzonemedia dot com, or check

us out on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever
you listen to podcasts. You can find sources for It
could Happen here, updated monthly at coolzonemedia dot com, slash sources.
Thanks for listening.

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