05-26-2018  8:48 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
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NEWS BRIEFS

Attorney General Forms Hate Crime Task Force

The task force will study hate-motivated crimes and review existing legal protections for victims ...

Portland Art Museum Celebrates Art Museum Day with Free Admission on May 25

Portland Art Museum joins art museums across North America, with great works of art and public programs ...

June Key Delta Community Center Hosts May Week ’18 Health Fair May 26

Event includes vision, glucose screenings, medication disposal and car seat installation ...

Mississippi Avenue Giving Tuesday

On Tuesday, May 22, 10 percent of proceeds from participating Mississippi Ave. businesses will go to SEI ...

Oregon advances with 11-1 run-rule victory over Kentucky

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — DJ Sanders hit a grand slam in a seven-run second inning and the Oregon Ducks are headed to the women's College World Series after an 11-1 run-rule victory over Kentucky Saturday night in the deciding game of the Eugene Super Regional.Shannon Rhodes hit a solo home run...

Amtrak: No evidence injured passenger was in fight

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The family of a 22-year-old train passenger found severely injured next to railroad tracks in Truckee, California, suspects he may have been the victim of a hate crime, but Amtrak said Saturday that investigators have found no evidence of foul play.Aaron Salazar's family...

City aims to block release of dangerous psychiatric patients

LAKEWOOD, Wash. (AP) — The city that houses Western State Hospital, Washington's main psychiatric facility, is fighting to keep patients from being released into its boundaries.The News Tribune reports Lakewood on Monday approved a moratorium on city business licenses for new adult family...

Missing fisherman found by divers in submerged vessel

SEATTLE (AP) — The body of a missing fisherman was found by divers inside the sunken vessel, the Kelli J.The Coast Guard said Saturday that the body was found before the vessel was refloated by contractors in Willapay Bay on Friday.The Pacific County Sheriff's Office took the fisherman's...

OPINION

Racism After Graduation May Just Be What's on the Menu

Dr. Julianne Malveaux says that for our young millennials, racism is inevitable ...

Prime Minister Netanyahu Shows Limits of Israel’s Democracy

Bill Fletcher, Jr. on racial politics in Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s uneven treatment of African immigrants ...

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Meeting draws people angry over fatal police shooting

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — More than 200 people turned out for a community meeting Saturday to protest the death of a young black man who was fatally shot by a Virginia police officer after he ran naked onto an interstate highway.Speakers at the meeting at Richmond's Second Baptist Church said...

The Latest: Family: Police need to handle people better

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Latest on the fatal police shooting of a naked and unarmed man in Richmond (all times local):5:16 p.m.Family and friends of a man who was fatally shot by Richmond police after running naked onto an interstate highway are calling on police to find non-lethal ways of...

White neighbor gets prison for harassing black family

EASTON, Pa. (AP) — A neighbor accused of harassing and using racial epithets against a black Pennsylvania family for years has been sentenced to prison.A Northampton County judge sentenced 45-year-old Robert Kujawa to the term Friday after a jury convicted him of ethnic intimidation,...

ENTERTAINMENT

Glenn Snoddy, inventor of fuzz pedal for guitarists, dies

MURFREESBORO, Tennessee (AP) — A recording engineer whose invention of a pedal that allowed guitarists to create a fuzzy, distorted sound most famously used by Keith Richards in the Rolling Stones' hit "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" has died.Glenn Snoddy was 96. His daughter Dianne Mayo...

Reaction to criminal charges filed against Harvey Weinstein

Reaction to rape and other criminal charges filed in New York on Friday against Harvey Weinstein:"I hope this gives hope to victims and survivors everywhere, that we are one step closer to justice. Because one win is a win for all of us." — Weinstein accuser Rose McGowan, to The Associated...

Vindication, triumph, also fear: Weinstein accusers react

NEW YORK (AP) — Watching the stunning images of Harvey Weinstein walking into a courthouse Friday in handcuffs, a detective on each arm, Louisette Geiss still felt a shiver of fear in reaction to the man who, she says, once cornered her and tried to physically force her to watch him...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Klay Thompson score 35, Warriors force Game 7 in West finals

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Klay Thompson hit nine 3-pointers and scored 35 points, the Warriors held James...

AP FACT CHECK: Trump on border stats _ and a Merkel mystery

WASHINGTON (AP) — Illegal border crossings, as President Donald Trump measures them, have gone up since he...

US Gulf Coast prepares as Alberto brings wind, rain north

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Florida, Alabama and Mississippi launched emergency preparations ahead of the...

Declassified US cables link Uribe to Colombia drug cartels

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — As Alvaro Uribe, Colombia's most powerful politician, was making his rise to the...

Ebola vaccinations begin in rural Congo on Monday: Ministry

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Ebola vaccinations will begin Monday in the two rural areas of Congo where the...

Israeli soldier badly wounded in West Bank arrest raid dies

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military says a soldier who was seriously wounded in action this week has...

Kory Murphy of the Department of County Assets talks with Laura Cohen, project manager of LEAD at program outreach dinner. (Multnomah County)
By Melanie Sevcenko | The Skanner News

To lower the number of people entering the criminal justice system, a program called Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, or LEAD, puts treatment ahead of arrests.

In the coming months Portland will be introducing the still largely experimental program that offers social services to individuals possessing small amounts of cocaine, meth or heroin.

Originally launched in Seattle in 2011, the LEAD model is a suitable fit for Portland, says Rod Underhill, Multnomah County District Attorney.

“We think our downtown core area is almost tailor-made to hopefully derive the successes that Seattle did,” said Underhill. The DA cites Portland’s persistent issues with open air drug use and a staggering homeless population, particularly around high-pedestrian areas like Old Town, where the pilot program will be launched.

LEAD works by allowing the Street Crimes Unit of the Portland Police Bureau to give low-level drug offenders a choice: they can go the standard route of arrest-prosecution-incarceration, or be sent to a case-management program, which offers support services including transitional housing, counseling, job training and drug treatment.

According to Commander Chris Davis, officers routinely encounter the same individuals on the street – the majority of them struggling with addiction problems.

“Having done a lot of this work myself, you feel for these people, because they’re just stuck in this lifestyle,” said Davis. “The feedback I’ve heard from the officers is that they would like to have another option other than jail.”

After reviewing several applications, Multnomah County has recently selected a social services agency to preside over LEAD enrollees.

“Case managers will also do service brokering,” said Abbey Stamp, executive director of Multnomah County Local Public Safety Coordinating Council. “So not necessarily offering services through that same agency, but being very thoughtful about fit and needs, so that folks get services and treatment through a variety of agencies in our community.”

Underhill estimates that roughly 500 individuals per year – about 80 percent of them homeless – could be offered the LEAD program which, in the long term, would save money that is typically spent on juries, court-appointed lawyers, and trails.

Designed by the National Support Bureau – a partnership between the Public Defender Association and the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice – LEAD aims to remove the conviction barrier that often hinders offenders from landing jobs and homes. Such convictions can also increase tensions between police and communities, especially people of color.

“We have a high disproportionate number of individuals of color, especially people from the Black community, being arrested and being referred to my office for prosecution consideration,” said Underhill.

Nationwide, African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites, according to research by The Sentencing Project.

The Rev. Dr. T. Allen Bethel, senior pastor of Maranatha Church in Northeast Portland , says the picture is not much brighter in Portland’s Black community.

“If you look at the records, even though the African American and Latino populations are smaller within the city, there are more of them being arrested and incarcerated than others,” said Bethel. 

A primary goal of LEAD is to address the disparity in the prison system. According to Bethel, that disparity can be attributed to minorities sometimes lacking access to necessary resources, like treatment or legal assistance.

“Some of them are just repeating the system because they do need help,” he said. “And once they’re released they have no other place to go but back out to what they know is familiar.”

Bethel, who has been actively involved in shaping Portland’s chapter of LEAD, is hoping the program will help offenders break those dangerous patterns to become more productive citizens. 

To accomplish that, LEAD follows a basic harm reduction model that works to combat mass criminalization and incarceration in the United States.

The approach is starkly different from the War of Drugs, which tends to put strain on the criminal justice system. Harm reduction, on the other hand, aims to address the problem at the source and aims to alleviate overdosing, street crime and overcrowding of jails.

Since 2007, the rate of women in Oregon going to prison has increased by 22 percent, with 70 percent of those women sent to prison on drug charges or property crime. The Oregon State Legislature has decided to postpone spending $10 million on building a second women's prison – a proposal put forth by the Department of Corrections due to overcrowding of the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility. Multnomah County hopes that LEAD will help hold down inmate population growth by providing long-term support services.

“My office doesn’t operate by thinking a criminal conviction is a success,” said Underhill. “The success is if the person can discontinue or reduce their use of controlled substances as they follow a path toward health.”

A recent evaluation of the program, conducted by the Harm Reduction Research and Treatment Center at the University of Washington, found that people in LEAD were 60 percent less likely to be arrested within the first six months of enrolling in the program. The study also revealed that nearly all participants felt their involvement in LEAD had helped them meet their basic needs, work towards important life goals, and improve their perceptions of law enforcement.

To develop LEAD, the District Attorney’s office has secured $800,000 from the budget of Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury. An additional $200,000 has come from MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge grant money. The city of Portland is also expected get on board with financial support.

Multnomah County is planning to roll out the first phase of the pilot program in early 2017.

LEAD is also operating in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Albany, New York and Canton, Ohio. Programs are currently in development in over a dozen cities across the country. 

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