While Ballot Measure 110 Gives Oregonians Accused of Drug Crimes a Treatment Option Instead of Jail, Many Are Not Showing Up in Court – State of Reform

While the passage from Vote Measure 110 in 2020 offered Oregonians charged with drug offenses treatment options as an alternative to jail time, many people do not seek treatment.

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Phil Lemman, assistant state court administrator with the Oregon Judicial Department, provided an update on the Ballot Measure 110 incentives during a meeting of the Interim Senate Justice and Implementation Committee. of ballot measure 110 on Wednesday.

Vote Measure 110adopted by voters in November 2020 and implemented by Senate Bill 755 the following year – decriminalized possession of small amounts of illicit drugs and diverted some marijuana tax money to a grant program. The grant program has established addiction treatment and recovery centers where residents can get free assessments and be referred to health care services. It also created a new class E violation for drug offences, where a person can get tested within 45 days of being issued a citation instead of a fine.

Defendants appear before specialized courts. State specialized courts include 29 adult drug courts, 20 mental health courts, 9 family treatment courts, 5 veterans treatment courts, 4 juvenile drug courts and 2 driving under the influence courts intoxicants.

“Drug courts are now focusing on high-risk people with high needs,” Lemman said. “And they use an intensive, incentive-based process to help people deal with their criminal behaviors and substance abuse disorders. People with criminal histories and serious drug addiction needs, instead of facing jail time, can be referred to these courts where they receive treatment [and] intensive monitoring. This is a collaborative effort with law enforcement and the processing side. It’s a holistic approach where the court has a variety of tools to make sure people move forward with their treatment and make progress.

However, there is no penalty for non-appearance. Lemman said the state filed 3,486 Class E charges in circuit courts between Feb. 1, 2021 (which was the effective date of Measure 110) and Sept. 18.

“About 79% of those charges resulted in convictions,” Lemman said. “And of those convictions, about 70% were the result of failure to appear in court. And Senate Bill 755 established that there is no penalty for failing to appear for a charge. class E.”

About 8% of Class E violations have been dismissed, while 12.5% ​​of charges are still pending.

Sen. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) asked if those who attend drug courts likely would have attended if Ballot Measure 110 was not in place.

“I don’t think we can say categorically, ‘No, those people wouldn’t be there,’ but I think it would be a very small percentage,” Lemman said. “When you have a breach, nobody shouts their risk and need. Making it an offense does not sit well with the drug court model. Drug courts are resource intensive. You have a judge, a coordinator, law enforcement, a defense attorney, treatment professionals. This is a team that focuses a lot of effort on these individuals. So they work best when the participant is there voluntarily, is engaged, and has all those support services around them.

Thatcher asked how officials could make the treatment a more attractive option for those uninterested in it.

“We need to coordinate our efforts on behavioral health, ticketing, to make it actually work,” Thatcher said. “It doesn’t feel like it’s working. This [seems] as the people who need this treatment are not looking for it.

Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said procedures related to Ballot 110 make treatment more accessible than it was before for some Oregonians.

“The challenge we’ve faced historically is that people seek treatment at various times when they’re in a place where it makes sense to them,” Allen said. “And too often the response has been, ‘Come back in 2 weeks, or maybe we’ll have a slot for you in a month. What this funding change in measure 110 does, for the first time, is help position us to meet the needs of people when they are at that time treatable. I think this is an important step towards building the system. It’s not something we’ve been able to do historically.

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