|2/20/2018 2:37:00 PM|
Crime is down in Deschutes County
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel made a presentation to Sisters City Council about Community Safety and Reporting, on the most recent crime statistics for the County as well as the first months of the new Goldilocks program.
Juvenile crime and dependency filings are projected to decrease for 2017-18 as a result of a different approach to handling juveniles who come into the system. The aim is to conduct risk assessments on the youths and get them, and their families if indicated, the help they need so they don't reoffend.
On the adult side, despite a growth in population for the county of 10,000 new residents and more tourists in town, the crime rate has dropped by 8.6 percent. Hummel said that there are still too many domestic-violence and impaired-driving cases and that needs to be addressed. He is exploring a domestic-violence intervention program coming out of Virginia.
When all types of crimes since 2014-15 are added up, there is a small increase in the number of criminal cases reviewed but a definite year-after-year decrease in the cases that are actually filed, with 30 percent of felonies and misdemeanors being dismissed up front over the past four years. Disposition of those cases includes obtaining appropriate services for people rather than simply locking them up.
"The justice department is doing a great job providing services rather than prosecutions," Hummel said.
The new Goldilocks program, or the "just right" intervention, encourages low-risk drug offenders to enter the "clean slate" program where they get immediate access to the medical system and harm reduction to treat their addiction, while being closely followed by a judge, addiction counselor, and attorney. If the program is successfully completed, the person gets a clean slate with no criminal charges for their possession offense.
On the other end of the spectrum is the "deter" program, which is aimed at those participating in the manufacture and delivery of drugs. They face enhanced prosecution in an attempt to reduce the number of commercial drug dealers in the area. They can face federal racketeering charges.
The Goldilocks program was developed in response to the high recidivism rate (34 percent) for people charged with drug and theft crimes between 2009-2015. If the program proves successful at the end of two years, it will be continued. If it doesn't seem to have an impact on the recidivism rate, something else will be tried.
"We are not going to stop, because we need a better way," Hummel assured the Council.
The mental-health court operates much like the drug court, designed to get people who qualify into a program of extensive treatment with a team approach. Of the 242 mental-health holds, most were stabilized as they improved on medication, while receiving needed services, shelter, and counseling.
Hummel reported he is concerned that the inspection program of marijuana grow sites is inadequate. There are 980 medical marijuana grow sites in Deschutes County and 20,000 in the state. Fifty-five have been inspected. He said that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which is responsible for monitoring, does have good access on recreational marijuana grows.
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