According to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, more than half of all inmates in federal penitentiaries are incarcerated for drug offenses. In 1970, just months before the term “War on Drugs” proliferated in the media and politicians began a decades long public relations campaign against drug use, just 16 percent of federal prisoners were doing time because of a drug offense.
When it comes to your risk of arrest, prosecution and punishment, public perception matters. When media sources target a perceived problem and the public concern over it grows, voters are more apt to get behind officials who will throw money at it. In the context of drug charges, more funding means more arrests, whatever the real impact of drugs in a community. With a new report from the state announcing a perceived expansion of drug activity in Oregon, your odds of facing drug charges in an overzealous drug enforcement environment could be going up.
Report says more trafficking in meth, heroin and prescription drugs expected in Oregon
Produced by the Oregon High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, the new report is entitled, “Threat Assessment and Counter-Drug Strategy.” On June 11, the state released the report to the public, disseminating some dire predictions.
Traffic of methamphetamine, prescription drugs and heroin is expected to continue to increase, according to the authors of the report. Additionally, the report states that abuse of Oregon’s medical marijuana program is also likely to increase. In terms of the proportion of state residents using illegal drugs, the report puts Oregon as fourth in the nation.
Police in Oregon did seize 540 pounds of crystal meth last year through highway stops, a substantial increase from the 157 pounds seized three years earlier. But, while Oregon police say they identified 81 drug trafficking organizations last year, they have only identified nine during the first five months of 2014. And, while police opened over 4,000 drug cases in the regions covered by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program last year, they expect the total to drop to 3,200 next year.
Ensure judges and jurors draw their own conclusions: Get an experienced defense attorney
When the number of new drug cases being opened and the number of drug trafficking organizations being discovered by the police is on the decline, one might logically expect that means drug activity within the state is staying stable or even declining. But when the numbers are couched in no uncertain terms by conclusions that drug trafficking in Oregon is increasing, the nuances of the data may be easily lost in sensational headlines.
As a government program that is more likely to get funded when drugs are perceived to be a major problem, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program has obvious incentives to frame a trickle of drugs as a drug epidemic in its own report. But with such a viewpoint being pushed, if you are arrested on drug charges, you could be facing a criminal justice system amped up in efforts to crush a perceived problem.
If you have been arrested for a drug crime, do not let yourself be made an example of, and do not let public fear mongering affect your future or your freedom. Get in touch with an experienced Oregon criminal defense lawyer today, and fight the charges against you.