BEND, OR -- Deschutes County's District Attorney wants to expand diversion programs, to help keep low-level criminals from re-offending. D.A. John Hummel and three of his staff took a fact-finding trip, last week, to Wisconsin. Hummel met with Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, known nationwide for his diversion programs. "They have a big volume in Milwaukee, as you might expect, in a city of that size," Hummel tells KBND News, "And, they want to focus their resources to the greatest extent possible on prosecuting the people who need to be prosecuted, while getting the people who would benefit from community services, out of the system early."
In 2017, Hummel launched the "Goldilocks" program, which gives eligible drug offenders the option to participate in a diversion program, in exchange for dropping criminal charges. In some cases, they receive addiction treatment at a local community health center. Based on what he observed in Milwaukee, Hummel believes Goldilocks could be expanded over the next year, beyond drug offenses, and would result in lowered recidivism rates for low-level offenders. "This isn't something that's going to change in a day, or week, or month," says Hummel, "But it is something that we need to look at. I'm proud of what we're doing in this office now, but I'm always looking for ways that we can improve. Over the next year, I'd like to think that we can expand our diversion offerings, and that's going to make for a safer community."
Hummel contends, "We're safe." But, he says, "I want us to continue to be safe, and I want us to be even safer. Why shouldn't we be the safest in the country? That's my goal. So, maybe we're in the 90th or 95th percentile on safeness, I want us to be in the 99th percentile." He says he plans to do more to communicate how he's working to improve safety, and make sure there's access to data that shows residents what's happening in their communities.
File Photo: D.A. John Hummel