Monday, September 22, 2014

overseers in seattle using common sense and protecting and serving for a change...,

HuffPo |  In 1971, Richard Nixon declared drug abuse “America’s public enemy number one.” Over the next three decades, the federal government and most states toughened their drug laws and began spending ever more to put offenders in prison and keep them there. Today, there are neighborhoods where nearly everyone knows people who have been behind bars, and the enforcement of the drug laws across racial lines is so uneven that the United States locks up a higher percentage of black men than South Africa did at the height of apartheid. Drugs are purer and cheaper than they were in the '90s, and the demand for them is overwhelming authorities’ ability to combat the problem. Prison wardens are filling gyms and television rooms with bunk beds. Officials in both parties and at every level of the government complain about the cost of keeping so many people locked up. 

In recent years, some states have saved money on prisons by investing more heavily in “drug courts” where judges can order defendants to enroll in treatment programs. Every state in the country has at least a few drug courts; Washington alone has dozens. In the simplest sense, these courts offer people an opportunity to avoid prison, provided they agree to stop using all illegal drugs and go into a treatment program ordered by a judge. Studies suggest that they can help addicted people break their habits. But people with the toughest addictions often drop out or fail to qualify in the first place, and even those who manage to get "clean" still have to live with the permanent stain of a criminal record.
In Seattle’s West Precinct, where Bradford lives, the approach is different. People who get arrested for the sale and possession of crack, heroin and other illegal drugs are no longer automatically thrown in jail and prosecuted. Instead, officers with the Seattle Police Department now have the option of giving these offenders a choice: leave the precinct the old-fashioned way, in handcuffs, or meet with a counselor at a social-service agency and avoid the court system altogether. 

Those who choose the second path are no longer offenders, but “clients.” Depending on their needs, they may receive free apartments, clean clothes, college tuition, books for school or even yoga classes. Counselors lead them through a bureaucratic maze, helping them apply for jobs, food stamps, health insurance and other essentials. Private foundations shoulder most of the costs, though the city has begun to chip in, too. All the clients have to do to get into the program is agree to see a counselor at least twice in the first month of signing up. They don’t have to promise to stop using drugs. No one hands them a cup and points them to the bathroom.

The underlying philosophy is known as “harm reduction.” Proponents believe in trying to rein in the secondary effects of drug addiction -- social ills like poverty and homelessness and physical diseases like HIV -- by supporting people who are either unwilling or unable to stop using drugs. The idea has always been controversial, particularly in the United States, with critics arguing that the best way to address addiction is to insist on total abstinence from drugs at every stage of the recovery process. Nevertheless, government-backed programs that practice the principles of harm reduction are spreading throughout the country and the world, in part because the unimpeded growth of the drug trade has made it increasingly difficult for governments to justify the traditional ways of dealing with addiction. 

In Canada, Australia, and many European cities, addicts can now get their fixes in legally sanctioned injection rooms under the supervision of nurses who have been trained to protect against overdoses. Syringe exchanges, where people can trade dirty needles for clean ones, have sprung up in most American states and in more than 70 countries. Since 2001, the government of Portugal has treated the possession of a personal supply of drugs as a minor offense on par with a parking violation. When the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, looked into the effects of this policy in 2009, it found that fewer kids were using drugs in their teens and that the HIV infection rate among drug users had dropped substantially. 

In the United States, police departments in some cities have taken small steps toward reconciling the old-school approach with one that prioritizes the health and safety of drug users. In Washington, D.C., for example, the police chief has ordered officers to comply with a new law that bars them from arresting people who call 911 to report an overdose.

Yet Seattle may be the only city in America where the police have departed so sharply from the status quo. Judith Greene, the director of Justice Strategies, a nonprofit research group that studies criminal justice reform, said she couldn’t think of another example of police arresting people for the purpose of “giving them a pathway to a new life.”

Although it's still too soon to tell whether Seattle's strategy will pay off in the long run, the program, called Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, or LEAD, is already attracting interest from police departments and prosecutors’ offices around the country. San Francisco, Denver, Atlanta and Houston have all sent representatives to Seattle to take notes, according to the program’s administrators. Santa Fe recently adopted the model for people arrested for heroin and prescription opiates, and Albany, New York, is expected to launch a similar program this year. In Seattle, the effort has already helped dozens of people like Bradford get access to services that can temper the effects of addiction. In a society that still insists on treating drug addicts as criminals, the city is trying to use that criminalization to direct addicted people to services that might actually help them.


CNu said...

lol, Tom got you dead-to-rights and you had to change the subject, however, that tableau comprised of swollen somali immigrant refugees agitating for halal welfare stands out as one of your very best rope-a-dopes here-to-date!

BigDonOne said...

Oh...Did you expect BD to post his Form 1040...??

CNu said...

lol, I lost interest when you hung, swung, and burst yourself wide open at the very top with this pricelessly ahistorical bonerLow SES fundamentally flows from inherited bad geneticsTom deciding to hang you back up for a few more gratuitous swings is just fun and games.

Constructive_Feedback said...

Brother CNu:

Have you been watching the 2014 episodes of "Drugs Inc"?

The episode in Portland Oregon was eye opening.
In "liberal" Portland, which was very tolerant on drug use - the swarm of young people who were destroying their productive lives only to become vagrants caused this city to "conserve up".

With all due respect - I offer no CREDIT to anyone who pushes for "Drug Legalization" BUT FAILS to consider the larger picture.
The magic of "Drug Rehabilitation" is not the answer as the girl featured in the episode was heading into her 7TH treatment.

There is some void in the lives of these young people that compel them to inject dangerous drugs into their body.
Beyond the question of "Where Are The Jobs" - there is a massive missing component in their lives and the greater society which they can't cope with so they ZONE OUT of their conscious reality.

What is your answer for the young couple who wake up late, spend their time groveling for money, purchase a HIT - are zoned out for a few hours and then RINSE AND REPEAT the next day?

CNu said...

My answer is pharmaceutical grade drugs and clean medical works provided at cost to anybody so inclined to partake. The actual cost of maintaining a severe addiction is less than $.02/day - so that factor is negligible. Any objections?

ken said...

I assume you mean .02 times all US citizens. I am with you on legalizing all drugs, it will reduce medical cost and doctor's visits for prescriptions, but why wouldn't you let natural consequences limit the addict. Why calculate the cost to all of us? Let the addict cost those he is associated with, thereby making him accountable to those he brings cost to. Charging all of us for the addiction creates no accountability, nor responsibility for those around the addict. Nor does it allow for natural restraint.

CNu said...

You assume wrong. That figure is of course adjusted for about 15 years worth of inflation, but the cost of maintaining the most hardcore heroin addict at the actual cost of the drug from poppy to finished product was formerly a modest fraction of $.01 - period.

I don't calculate the cost to you or anyone else. A cleanly and legally fed and unhidden addiction is not a problem to anyone - except for those two utterly filthy and toxic legal substances, alcohol and tobacco.

As things presently stand, we're all rendered accountable for the costs and devastation wreaked by this utterly asinine prohibition. Of that, there's no doubt whatsoever.

ken said...

I think you are considering just the price of the drug itself. That's not the whole cost of the hardcore heroin addict. Look at this program for instance:

I haven't decided if I like this approach or not, I do think it would cost less than the incarceration and drug enforcement of addicts. But the cost of welfare and food and shelter, and the administration of the drugs do have a cost.

The last question of the article of the article: “Now addicts can live more peacefully and start thinking about other things than just getting high. What remains after everything else has been taken care of, is their addiction,” he said. “If you get the dope for free, your only problem is that you’re addicted to the dope. It seems like a paradox, but it's true. All that's left when everything else is taken care of is the question: do I really want to keep on using this?”

I wonder if after awhile if there's a choice. Everything is take care of as long as you keep using, what happens if you want to quit? Are you taken care of then? It seems once you get on this addict program, the incentives to remain an addict our sizable. It does appear like this program is helpful for the society as a whole, which maybe how I should look at it, but we are making a decision these addicts are worthless, and will remain worthless and decided we will pacify them until they finally die.

I can't argue according to the stats, the example of the older addicts appears to given the younger ones the opinion, they don't want any part of the addict lifestyle.

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