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Deschutes D.A. Supports M110 Reforms

BEND, OR -- Groups representing Oregon District Attorneys, Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, along with the League of Oregon Cities, say they’ve created a comprehensive plan to address the failures of Measure 110 and the ongoing drug crisis. 

Deschutes County District Attorney Steve Gunnels presented the the 11-point plan to County Commissioners this week. He says it's not a perfect fix, "But, I believe if all or most of these proposals were set into law by the legislature, they would improve our situation in Oregon."

Among the recommendations: reclassifying simple drug possession from a violation to a Class A misdemeanor, "A misdemeanor is a crime for which a person could spend up to a year in jail, but cannot go to prison," says Gunnels. "And, realistically, you’re not talking about a year in jail for drug possession." They also want to re-criminalize public use, in line with state laws prohibiting open use of alcohol and marijuana. And, the plan outlaws drug use in an enclosed public space, "So, if somebody is in a bus - for example, a transit bus - and they start smoking fentanyl or injecting fentanyl, they could potentially be arrested and prosecuted for this crime, in addition to the possession of the drug or public use."

Gunnels also wants the state to restore a statute allowing prosecutors to charge drug dealers even if caught before a sale takes place. He says the recommendation is to, "Redefine delivery to include Possession with Intent to Distribute, which is modeled on the federal statute for delivery of a controlled substance." The plan also includes renewing an option for diversion programs for addicts, "We used to have a statute called the Conditional Discharge Statute, here in Oregon. It allowed for people who are arrested for simple possession of drugs to be on probation with drug treatment. And if they did everything they were supposed to do, at the end of their probation the charge would be dismissed." 

They also want funding for so-called "drug courts" and other specialty court programs, and to supervise parolees convicted of theft or other property crimes tied to drug use, "That addresses a pretty glaring hole in our supervision matrix, where people are not properly supervised in the community who are drug addicts, and they’re harming businesses, they’re harming their neighbors by stealing from them." 

Click HERE for a look at the full 11-point plan proposed by state law enforcement groups. Gunnels told Commissioners, "All of these are designed to get people into treatment and not just put them in jail."

The legislature is expected to take up the issue of reforming Ballot Measure 110 in the February session.  


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