Southern Oregon needs access to drug treatment

October 18, 2020

Oregon has a destructive revolving door for people with drug addictions: detox (sometimes while in jail), back out and using, arrested and in trouble again — the cycle continues, with no support, and very little drug treatment and support services available to help people find a way out. This is a big problem across Oregon, and in the Rogue Valley, it’s out of control.

For me, this isn’t just a statistic I read in a newspaper. It’s my story.

My struggles with drug addiction started early. I was 15 years old. After many run-ins with the law, I started collecting criminal charges and I saw no end in sight. After years of going in and out of jail because of my addiction, I was finally able to get into treatment.

It’s not uncommon for the Jackson County Jail to release inmates early for lack of capacity. The county jail released 7,000 inmates in 2017 for this very reason. The same thing happened again in 2018, with 5,330 inmates released early, even after the jail added more beds to the basement. That same year our county jail had the second-highest number of forced releases out of all counties in Oregon. Some of these people were arrested on non-violent drug charges. Instead of being offered treatment, they cycle in and out of our jail, and addiction treatment remains practically nonexistent.

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