Six months into operation, the city’s drug impact area program has excluded 240 defendants from the city’s downtown and inner eastside neighborhoods — nearly one in four of all arrests for heroin, cocaine and marijuana in the county during that period.
The $250,000 program, implemented in June, allows the courts to exclude people from three geographical areas for up to two years, based upon their conviction. The three DIAs – assigned for heroin, cocaine and marijuana convictions – largely overlap covering the Downtown, Old Town, and Holladay Park neighborhoods.
The period ended in November, and the city released the report just this month.
“When you look at the amount of crime and the types of crime — it’s working,” said Billy Prince, DIA prosecutor with the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office. Prince was speaking today to members of the Old Town/Chinatown Livability Committee, which led the cry last year to bring back exclusions to the neighborhood.
Altogether, the report references 1,064 arrests involving heroin, cocaine and marijuana throughout the county – 824 of them outside of the three DIAs. Regardless of where the arrest took place, a convicted offender could be excluded from one or all of the three areas downtown.
According to the report, 81 percent of those arrested in the DIAs for dealing resided outside the areas and had come into the areas to sell the drugs. The vast majority, 180, of the 240 exclusions are for possession, with the remaining 60 for dealing.
While most of those arrested in the DIAs were white, 42 percent were people of color. Among those arrested outside of the areas, 65 percent were white and 35 percent were people of color.
The $250,000 appropriated for the program pays for the DIA prosecutor as well as overtime for a police walking beat in the neighborhoods. The program also changed policy, ramping up the criminality on heroin and cocaine residue offenses from violations to misdemeanors, making them eligible for exclusion. Since that changed, 164 cases that were formerly eligible for violation treatment were issued as misdemeanors and were eligible for exclusion as a term of probation.
Depending on the case, some people arrested on drug charges qualify for Multnomah County’s STOP drug court treatment program. Defendants enrolled in STOP are not issued exclusions as long as they are actively engaged in treatment. If the defendant does not comply with the STOP court terms, they receive a felony conviction and can then be excluded. Exclusions are not issued for people sentenced to prison.
Exclusions may come with a list of exceptions for people who need to be in one of the DIAs either they because they live there or need the services in the neighborhood. Nearly half of those issued exclusions qualify for the city’s Service Coordination Team program which helps chronic offenders with integrated drug treatment, housing and related services.
For more on the drug-impact areas see SR reporting back in August of 2011.