Those radical white terrorist extremists have been saying this pack of Lies ever since.
They still pretend the "OMG Seattle Is Dying" narrative has any connection with the actual city we live in but they don't.
Are they on drugs?
But they're much more wacko than any homeless people we see, and they see conspiracy theories in how they can't be racist in public any more, and how if they don't wear masks, we make fun of them.
@1 So what are you saying, that charging people with a misdemeanor for simple possession would fix that guy right up?
Some people want the police to have broad powers to make the lives of marginalized people so miserable that they go hide someplace. And then we don't have to see them. At least its an ethos.
this is bullshit we should be making harder for junkies to get high while providing an out. Any of the progressives who think there is nothing to see here or the current state of addiction is due to outdated drug laws is just burying their head in the sand. I don't know what you see Charles but this city is FUCKED. When we cater to the junkies more than the families, business owners, etc you are basically saying there is not personal responsibility for an addict, and addicts will take advantage of that until they 1) hit rock bottom 2) end up in jail for a serious offence or 3) are dead in a tent. Real compassion would be to sweep the encampments, confiscate paraphernalia and bust the drug trade. The true homeless due to mental health issues and long term alcoholism should be top priority for housing in the city the rest of the meth and heroin addicts need to know that the lifestyle they chose has no place in this city. Props to Auburn for seeing the light.
@5 Heh, if the 'current state of addiction' is worse now than it was before then it seems your moronic war is...failing? Miserably? No reason to stop now! Ramp it up!
At least Biden made it easier to get Suboxone prescribed to opiate addicts today. That's a good step in a better direction for those who are willing. There's nothing like that for meth that I've ever heard about.
Neither the Supreme Court decision, nor the actions of the Legislature will have any affect on King County or Seattle.
The fact of the matter is King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg has effectively legalized drug trafficing, dealing, and possession in King County by refusing to prosecute any drug crimes from felonious to petty. Combine that with Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes' unwillingness to prosecute any misdemeanors and you have a situation where repeat criminals can waltz into the Bartell next to Ballard Commons, grab whatever they want, assault the manager, and waltz right back out with absolutely no fear of prosecution.
I've got jury duty coming up and I'd like to thank messers Satterberg and Holmes for making it so easy. If either of those two clowns is willing to prosecute then the defendant must be guilty.
I didn't know there was lots of addiction and crime in Singapore.
@9 Interesting, I did not know there was a lot of addiction and crime in Singapore.
scientists gave some rats space and food and shelter and family/companionship and the other rats got deprivation and they offered Both groups cocaine and one group tried it and chose not to and the other chose the cocaine and Death.
addicts are Symptons
Billionaires are too.
addicts are NOT
@9, not sure what this data is you're referring to, if you mean Portugal, well, that's one data point. In King County, the place we're talking about here, drug overdose deaths have gone up every year in the last decade and have more than doubled in that time while we've been decriminalizing drugs. Maybe Portugal got things right but I'm having a hard time believing that our functional decriminalization in King County has translated to positive results.
The "Seattle is dying" thing is plenty stupid, but Seattle has some major problems that are getting worse every year. Yes, we're adding more tech jobs and housing is getting less affordable every year, which for some reason are the measures The Stranger prefers to show Seattle is doing well. However, the housing market probably has more to do with how tech stocks are doing than how livable the city is. Seattle hasn't been able to translate all that money into solutions for some difficult problems, which isn't a great sign of health for a city.
@14: Addicts ARE a problem when they steal, leave needles lying around, and impact the healthy and safety of our city.
They once were living good lives, not a "symptom" of that nasty capitalism you love to hate. But they made the wrong choice and got addicted.
Seattle is sick and on life support. We're down to about 1000 police officers, about what we had in the mid 80's.
But hey, that's just fine for the cop bigots.
Maybe we'd all be more apt to believe Petey Homles if there were actually any real significant investment, or a plan of any kind, to divert addicts away from addiction and crimes to support addiction and push them toward getting healthy.
Nah, that makes too much sense. Let's just let everybody off on personal recognizance, give them a hug, ask them please not to offend again, and release them back to the streets with maybe like a business card to a drug counselor. Been working great, so far.
@13 Addicts are certainly the problem when they've broken into your car for the fourth time.
Few IS The
can Buy & Sell
no longer get
Why is it Conservatives continue to cling to this antiquated and thoroughly disproven notion that making the life of an addict even more miserable, difficult and humiliating than it is already will somehow magically convince them to turn things around? When, in the entire history of human civilization, has adopting such a policy EVER achieved the purported goal at anywhere near to a substantial level? Addicts have existed for as long as there have been substances to which someone could become addicted, and no amount of punishment or threat of punishment has ever made even a modest dent in the problem, because the reality is that an addict has almost no control over the state of their addiction, and forcing them to bootstrap themselves out of their addiction without providing any level of support or guidance just doesn't work.
So, if the proposed solution doesn't actually fix the problem, then by definition it's not a "solution", it's just a ersatz panacea intended to remove the problem - and therefore any conflicting feelings of guilt or disgust or moral disapproval or whatever - from ones consciousness in order to continue to hold up the illusion it doesn't really exist. Treating addiction as a criminal, rather than as a health issue, is such a non-solution solution. It hasn't ever worked, it doesn't work now, and it won't ever work in the future short of rounding up every addict and putting all of them into some vast, sprawling enclave, barring the gates, and letting them fend for themselves as best they can. I'm sure that would be a perfectly acceptable option for many of those who prefer the "lock 'em up and throw away the key" approach to the problem, but it completely ignores the reality that, so long as addictive substances are available addicts will exist.
I presume some of these same law-and-order types would argue that treating addiction as a medical or health issue instead of a law enforcement issue only serves to encourage or enable addiction; but the truth is they don't really want to help these unfortunates, because that costs money - money they would rather spend on punishing people than actually helping them, because it satisfies their innate desire to view themselves as somehow morally superior and therefore immune to such behavior themselves. I'm sure there were lots of these folks who tsk-tsked Oxycontin addicts, until either they or someone in their immediate circle suddenly started popping them like PEZ candy, at which point it may have dawned on them that ANYONE, even good, God-fearing, tow-the-line conservatives like themselves can become an addict if the circumstances allow; so, it's really not a moral issue at all. But showing compassion and empathy only when it's convenient or necessitated by direct personal experience has always been a piss-poor way to deal with most of society's problems, including addiction.
"Marginalized"? I drive Aurora, through Frelard into Ballard every day. All I see standing on the corner with signs and sitting outside of their dilapidated tents and RV's is middle-aged white guys. Since when have they been "marginalized". I thought The Stranger hated mediocre middle-aged white guys. Unless they are drug-addled, unwilling to work and can't hold a job to pay for rent. If so, we evidently need to protect them.
@20 It is amusing that our resident troglodytes seem to be oblivious to how much it costs to imprison vast numbers of people for the 'crime' of addiction, never mind the salaries of cops and prosecutors and those hefty settlements when said cops inevitably slip up and gun down the odd unarmed drug fiend/random bystander. Maybe they are closet socialists?
There's nothing that scares the shit out of a mediocre middle-aged white guy more than seeing other mediocre middle-aged white guys down in the gutter, because - if it can happen to them it can happen to anyone, amiright?
According to The Stranger middle-aged white guys are privileged and have every opportunity to get out of the gutter. The only thing keeping them out of the job market is their drug addition. And if they are offered treatment, why would they refuse and instead chose to live in a tent or broken down RV?
And its not fear, its frustration. Many people work to afford a roof over their head; work jobs they don't like to make rent. When I was down and out, I worked as a Day Laborer, carrying 100lb bags a gravel from a truck to some rich person's back yard for days on end, to pay rent. Why should these people be allowed to do nothing, camp and shit in the park my kids want to play in, just because they gave up on life? I love how comments about poverty are made by people who to post here who obviously paid for a computer, paid for an internet connection, paid their electric bill, have a roof over their head so they can post on The Stranger.
I must correct myself in that we can't always blame the addict for the addiction - especially with alcoholism and opiate Rx.
I don't have the answers.
@25 Question is: why is it that you are fine with paying 80K+ a year to house those good for nothings in one of our oh so numerous prisons instead of perhaps paying far less to give them a room to shoot up and shit in so they aren't doing it in the park? I have a hunch: drug addiction. The drug of the retrograde reactionary: righteousness. The pure joy of imposing (via the armed coercion of the state) your deformed and thuddingly dimwitted morality on others.
Singapore has taken a tough no nonsense approach and it seems to have worked for them.
It’s one of the safest major metropolitan areas in the world. They have no homeless encampments blocking sidewalks. They don’t have addicts injecting drugs into their veins on street corners. They have a culturally diverse culture. Maybe we could learn something from them.
And yet, the Singapore government itself admits drug trafficking and use has skyrocketed in the past several years:
So, "guess it worked for them" would appear to be a very questionable conclusion based on the most recent data.
That said it does delineate a clear choice: live under an oppressive, top-down authoritarian government that exerts almost total control over what one can or cannot do - they'll literally fine or arrest you for spitting into the street; or live in a representative democracy where citizens have the freedom to make their own choices, even if they're bad ones; and instead of continuing to criminalize addiction at great expense both in terms of property loss and costs of incarceration, we could approach it as the health crisis it actually is and spend far less money to safely house and treat addicts and, if they can't successfully break their cycle of addiction, at least make sure they use in a manner that minimizes harm to whatever extent we can, both to themselves and to the public at-large.
@29 meant for @28.
@28 Yeah Singapore is always the go to for all you characters. A tiny rich city state with an absolutely draconian approach to micromanaging the behavior of its citizens. Representative of...nowhere else on earth (except maybe Dubai).
Sounds like your beef isn't with the addicts, it's with an exploitive Capitalist system that forces you to perform shitty, low-wage manual labor in exchange for the basic necessities just to survive, while the rich people who benefit from your labor laze around on the patios you sweat and toiled to build for them, engaging in the same sort of socially non-productive behavior as the junkies you despise - but because they can do it out of sight behind their manicured hedgerows instead of in your plain view on the streets, it's acceptable to you. And we get it: you really want to be like them, even though you know deep down in your greedy little dog-eaten heart you're a lot closer to the street junkies than you will ever be to them; I mean, who wouldn't have the crap scared out of them by that revelation?
If you could just be honest with yourself, you'd realize the only reason you hate addicts more than your Capitalist exploiters is because they've figured out act just like lazy, lay-about rich people, but on a mere fraction of their weekly COCAINE AND MALT LIQUOR budget.
You might want to read those stories google found for you.
I don’t think they mean what you think they do.
As long as addicts camp and shit behind their own manicured hedgerows, I'm cool with that. And if the Capitalist exploiters camped and shitted in our public parks, I'd have a problem with that too. You're confusing the person with the behavior. You can be frustrated with behavior and not hate the person. But identity politics tries to make them both the same.
Oh, I believe they do - if you read them all the way through...
Addiction comes in many colors. The drug war hasn't worked - just caused millions to be incarcerated with no end in sight and increased deaths of overdose and medical issues.
So proposing to punish people for being sick is a dead end street. IT IS A HEALTH ISSUE not attended to by our governments now. Many are too poor to pay for the help they need and/or too much in denial to comprehend the reality of their illness.
I am a recovered alcoholic who has been clean for many years. The only way I made it is because I snapped out of denial through the help of caring people and the love and companionship they offered. Being a female alcoholic was the lowest of the low and that kind of degradation can kill.
I have seen too many beautiful people die because of addiction. We must not go back but put resources into treating this as a health matter and reaching out.
@20, @23, @32: Unsanctioned camps in parks and greenbelts, and derelict vehicles blocking roadways, pose large risks to public health and safety, both to the persons living in them, and to the rest of Seattle's residents. Therefore, all encampments must be swept, and all derelict vehicles towed. This has nothing to do with any personal fear of homelessness; it is simply a matter of public health and safety. See? You can now quit practicing unsolicited psychoanalysis, without a license, upon persons you have not met. You're welcome!
If homeless persons tire of getting rousted from camps or having vehicles towed, we may choose to offer drug treatment to the addicts among those populations who ask for our help. However, that would require our City Council to admit addiction is one reason we have such a large homeless population; our City Council prefers to blame Evil Capitalist Oppressors at Amazon. (In this denial of reality, our City Council has the full support of The Stranger.) Therefore, contacting your City Council Members, and requesting reality-based homelessness policy, may be the best way forward. (By definition, it cannot be less effective -- or less ethical --than the unsolicited practice of psychoanalysis upon persons you have not met.)
But, you don't really seem to hold that position: you say you hate rich people's addictive behavior but don't hate them personally, whereas in fact you seem to rather admire them for having the privilege to shit on grass and consume drugs to their hearts content, so long as it's out of your sight. OTOH you seem to hate BOTH poor people's addictive behavior AND their veritable unwashed, poorly clothed, foul-smelling, homeless and marginalized persons, because they don't have that same privilege to hide it away from you. I can see how frustrating that must be, knowing you don't have the luxury, like the rich do, to not have to confront them; that it's a constant reminder you're not a cocaine-and-champaign-guzzling, Richie Rich yourself. Very frustrating, indeed.
So, it's not like you really have a moral objection to addiction and drug abuse in-general, nor to the unsavory, unsanitary and just plain gross behavior that often accompanies it, but only object to the degree you personally have to see it; a sort of contemporary variation on the apocryphal Winston Churchill-Lady Astor quip about "negotiating a price". And seriously, if you saw Jeff Bezos at your kids playfield drop his $1,000 slacks and let loose a King Cobra coil while schneefing a dick dinger off of Elon Musk would your first thought REALLY be "That's DISGUSTING! I must inform the authorities!" or instead would it be, "damn, the rich get to do whatever they want - I wish I was rich like them!"
If there's one thing history teaches us, it's that prohibition always works.
@28: I always thought North Korea would be more appealing to the law and order drug prohibition crowd than Singapore.
Now there's a Garden of Eden where they give those drug users the what for.
It’s a parliamentary democracy.
It’s got a great economy.
It’s ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse.
It has fantastic restaurants.
Their laws prohibiting racist or religiously insulting speech would be the envy of Seattle Progressives.
All that and clean streets and low crime.
@15: "not sure what this data is you're referring to, if you mean Portugal, well, that's one data point. In King County, the place we're talking about here, drug overdose deaths have gone up every year in the last decade and have more than doubled in that time while we've been decriminalizing drugs. Maybe Portugal got things right but I'm having a hard time believing that our functional decriminalization in King County has translated to positive results."
So here's a graphic representation of how successful the war on addiction has been from 1970 to 2012
Here is a graph of the incarceration rate from 1926 to 2010. Not the large spike in incarceration since the 1994 crime bill instituted harsh drug convictions along with mandatory minimums:
Now go back and look at that spending and addiction rate graph again. If you don't feel like you have been cheated by the war on drugs I've got a bridge to sell you.
The reason for the large spike is OD deaths, the highest on record last year at over 80,000 people is because the war on opiotes never ended even if the war on weed and cocaine did.
With the continued and in some cases increasing criminalization of heroine over the past 10 years, a drug that is addictive, but can be taken in a pretty wide range, the iron law of prohibition kicked in:
Heroine was replaced with far more powerful Fentanyl, a drug that is over 10,000 time more powerful and is easy to OD on if you are simply a few centigrams off.
The higher OD rate is a direct of result of continued prohibition of opiates.
In Portugal and Switzerland where they have legalized heroine the do not have this problem. In fact, OD plummeted after legalization.
@41 that you equate Singapore with North Korea shows you have no idea what you are talking about.
@8: "I've got jury duty coming up and I'd like to thank messers Satterberg and Holmes for making it so easy. If either of those two clowns is willing to prosecute then the defendant must be guilty."
File that under bad legal takes.
Just because the Pete and Dan show have eased up on the war on drugs doesn't mean they are now interested in going after the violent criminals they historically have placed a lower emphasis on prosecuting. They've just shifted resources to other lifestyle crimes like the war on sex workers to fill the gap until they can start a new war on "running the number" of handing out beer felonies under alcohol prohibition reborn as "the crime that threatens our women and girls!"
Just because they temporarily moved off of wasting our tax money on a failed drug policy does not eliminate the extreme prosecutorial narcissism that defines what crimes they persue. are Clearance rates for things like rapists, murderer and other violent criminals will remain abysmally low. It's just never been a big priority for them. Not when you have high asset forfeiture and overtime lifestyle surveillance crimes out there that give a bigger return on time and fighting violent crime.
Still, we all know you would convict a ham sandwich if given the chance. Too bad cops are typically excluded from jury duty.
Both Holmes and Satterberg have repeatedly dropped assault, theft, harassment and other charges against people claiming the person was too loony to stand trial.
So instead of incarcerating the "too loony" individual and keeping the public safe, they release the "too loony" individual out on the street to continue to assault, and rob and harass.
I've always had disdain for people who skip jury duty, I feel it is an essential responsibility of citizenship. I've always felt I would be an impartial juror, willing to hear both sides, not someone who thinks if they are arrested they must be guilty. Been called a number of times and disappointed when I haven't been chosen.
But after living in Seattle for 7 years. After seeing Satterberg repeatedly shirk his responsibility and refuse to prosecute I have changed my view. If even Satterberg thinks the person deserves trial then they probably deserve LWOP.
@45 And while we're on the subject of "too loony to stand trial." Why is that even a thing?
You either did it or you did not do it, whether you are loony or not shouldn't matter.
If you are found guilty of the crime you go to jail whether or not you are loony.
If you are found innocent of the crime you are free to go whether or not you are loony.
When did being loony absolve you from responsibility for your actions?
@46 Where do you get this shit from? If you think Satterberg is some squishy lefty I highly suspect you are huffing some dubious chemical yourself. Also, pretty sure you can go check up on some of the regions of this country where something not far off from Singapore level, over the top, penalties for drug use and dealing are still very much enforced and most of these very places have as high or higher rates of addiction and overdose as this alleged oasis for drug fiends.
@43, Switzerland hasn't decriminalized drugs, well, a small amount of cannabis will get you a fine and has been decriminalized in the past few years, but they're way behind Washington on this. One of the four pillars of their approach is law enforcement or, as the Swiss call it, repression. Of course, treatment is an equal pillar and they did this on a national level. However, their approach is entirely different from decriminalizing drugs along with petty crime and allowing people to sleep in parks. I'd be 100% behind an approach like Switzerland's but we'd need to do this on a national or at least state level and realize that enforcement is one of the pieces. More importantly, we'd need all of the four pillars (or whatever we end up with) working together to have any chance of making progress.
The other links you provided show that the war on drugs hasn't worked well, not that decriminalizing drugs would reduce drug related deaths, these are two very different things. Of course the war on drugs hasn't worked, using the Swiss as an example, either enforcement or the lack thereof by itself isn't going to get good results. King County has stopped prosecuting those caught with small and not so small amounts of drugs, including opioids. We're also not seeing a sudden spike in OD deaths but we've seen the number of OD deaths increase every year for the last 10 years. We are definitely in an opioid crisis, one that was caused by the medical establishment. Quite a few of today's addicts got their start by being prescribed drugs by doctors and sold drugs by pharmaceutical companies, all legally.
We have a " dont give a shit" combo pack... The city doesn't and the homeless dont.. You cant get much done with this mess..
Imagine a school teacher who doesn't care and neither do the kids.. Gonna be one hell of a school..Its beyond reach to resolve...
@48 I don't think Satterberg is some squishy lefty. I think Satterberg has allowed his grief from his sister's overdose to cloud his judgement and it prevents him from doing his job.
He should resign as he is incapable of doing his job.
His job is to prosecute criminals. He doesn't do his job.
@49: "Switzerland hasn't decriminalized drugs, well, a small amount of cannabis will get you a fine and has been decriminalized in the past few years, but they're way behind Washington on this."
You're dead wrong in this, which I suspect is why you provided no link to support it.
Read all about the legalization of heroine use in Switzerland along with the heroine use clinics that have been a no go in places like Seattle:
Prescribing Heroin for Medical Use
In the early 1990s, the Swiss government adopted a new approach that focused on harm reduction, treatment, social support, and heroin-assisted treatment (HAT), in which addicts were prescribed heroin in controlled doses.
Switzerland Halts War on Drugs, Cuts Deaths
@49 "The other links you provided show that the war on drugs hasn't worked well, not that decriminalizing drugs would reduce drug related deaths, these are two very different things."
The point of the links I provided was to show the enormous increase in the spending on the war on drugs, the static line for addiction over that same time period despite that increase in spending and the explosion in the prison rate after the 1994 crime bill.
The point being that the war on drugs came with enormous costs both financially and in ruined lives, but has done nothing to actually help with addiction. Like every other incarceration based lifestyle crime solution for the past 100 years it actually made things worse.
Here's what an effective drug plan looks like, to include the one in Switzerland you claimed didn't exist:
"King County has stopped prosecuting those caught with small and not so small amounts of drugs, including opioids."
That "small amount" qualification still manages to rope in plenty of typical users to include those who buy in groups and lots of other harm reduction strategies that remain heavily criminalized in King County under faux reformer Dan.
That has always been Satterberg's game plan with lifestyle crimes. You define the lesser crime so unbelievably narrow that the vast majority of those in the user groups can be pushed into the maximally expanded more severe charge meant for "the worst of the worst" even though it's typically used against the least of the least. That way he can pretend to be a reformer in the Press by pointing to how he claims he will use the laws while continuing to behave like some old white guy in Louisiana when it comes to their actual prosecution.
@49: "We're also not seeing a sudden spike in OD deaths but we've seen the number of OD deaths increase every year for the last 10 years. We are definitely in an opioid crisis, one that was caused by the medical establishment. Quite a few of today's addicts got their start by being prescribed drugs by doctors and sold drugs by pharmaceutical companies, all legally."
Wrong again. Honestly, I really wanted to agree with you on something, but you keep missing.
OD's increased 45% last year, resulting in a health advisory by the CDC:
I consider that a spike. What would you call it?
Coroner: Overdose deaths up by 45 percent in 2020, mostly due to fentanyl
You will also notice in the CDC advosory that the increased ODs were driven primarily by synthetic opiates, which doctors seldom prescribe on an out patient basis, meaning these are not comping from MDs or Pharma as you claim.
Once again, we are talking about the rate of OD's, not how people became addicted. Your theory people originally became addicted through MDs and Pharma may more may not be right since there is not data to support it, but that was not my point.
The issue I raised in the spike in ODs that is a direct result of the US cracking down on opiate prescriptions. If someone is addicted, cutting off their safest supply does not solve the problem, it makes it worse the way all prohibition does.
In response, there has been an explosion in the illegal use of Fentanyl, which is far more dangerous.
As with every other healthcare crisis where law enforcement took the lead, they made things infinitely worse. Still good luck convincing a cop or prosecutor they know less about drugs than an Anesthesiologist. They get the kind of intellectual mileage out their high school diplomas and law degrees a doctor could only dream of.
@52, for the google impaired:
Drugs are legal in Switzerland in the way that prescription drugs are legal in the US, not in the way that all drugs are now legal in Washington. Nothing like this is being discussed in Washington, again, if we're going the route the Swiss did, I'm completely on board.
"Here's what an effective drug plan looks like, to include the one in Switzerland you claimed didn't exist:"
I never said Switzerland didn't have an effective drug plan, I said they did and I'd support it 100%. I really don't see how you misunderstood this. I did say that the kind of decriminalization Washington is talking about is nothing like what they did. If it was, the folks providing drug treatment would be on the same page as law enforcement and those writing the laws, we have nothing like that.
@51 "I don't think Satterberg is some squishy lefty. I think Satterberg has allowed his grief from his sister's overdose to cloud his judgement and it prevents him from doing his job."
I've never bought that "he learned from human grief" argument. This is the same guy who used to attend executions back when that was a thing and tell the press the person being executed had exhausted the appeal process. Does that sound like some driven by his humanity?
His sister's tragic story, who he never so much as mentioned publicly until he started losing his last re-election campaign to Darron Morris was addicted to drugs for years during the time Satterberg was happily handing out the harshest penalties imaginable for minor drug possession in the 1090's and 2000's.
During the same time period when defense attorney's in King County were openly saying Dan Satterberg was literally the last prosecutor in King County they ever wanted to rise to DA he was sending his sister to treatment while packing our prisons with as many black and brown drug user as he could get his hands on. If he was going to have a crisis of conscious, or had empathy beyond his own immediate family he would have made the policy change then and not magically after the Feds cut off all the free grant funding that justified his love for the drug war in the first place.
The timing of all this simply doesn't line up with the narrative you give, which is also the narrative he pushed in the Seattle Times when his drug war had become unpopular and it appeared he would lose to Darron Morris before he dropped out of the race for health reasons.
You wan't Dan Satterberg to get back into the Drug War business? You will need to get his some federal grant money to make it worth his time. The problem is that Eric Holder ended those grants during his time at the DOJ.
@54, I was referring to the overdose deaths in King County, not the entire US. Here's what it looks like, a year over year increase:
I guess last year there was a 24% increase, which I guess you can call a spike... after a decade of increases. The main point of this was that there isn't much reason to believe that decriminalizing drugs has lead to lower OD deaths in King County as @9 was suggesting.
@57: I appreciate the clarification on location. It does vary by region. If King County was up what to be is a whopping 24% year over year, imagine the increase in harder hit regions to arrive at an average of 45% with over 80,000 dead? Totally preventable and unacceptable.
"The main point of this was that there isn't much reason to believe that decriminalizing drugs has lead to lower OD deaths in King County as @9 was suggesting."
I was making 3 separate points that may have been conflated:
The war on drugs has been a failure at dealing with, or reducing addiction (@43)
That decriminalization in Switzerland and Portugal have lead to a decrease in crime and OD's at a far lower cost that the previous war on drugs both locations carried out in the 1970's and 1980's similar to our own (@53 and @55)
That while increased addiction may or may not be linked to MD and Pharma, the exploding OD rate is directly related to restricting access to safer opiodes from MDs for those addicted, which has lead to an explosion in the use of illegal and far more dangerous synthetic opiodes outside the healtchare system. (@54)
That last one is not only supported by the numbers as the previous two points are, but is also pretty intuitive. If someone is addicted to say heroine and MD's lose the ability to prescribe it to them, those people are not going to simply quit. They will choose illegal options that are far more impure, dangerous and potent (back to the iron clad law of prohibition).
None of this was hard to predict since we have a century of failed criminalization drives prohibition that always leads to worse outcomes and more violence. It's always the same. Healthcare professionals and harm reduction experts suggesting one path, activists using government grants to pay police and prosecutors to follow another.
The one unchanging factor is that those who profit off the criminalization of addiction and lifestyle choices (the criminal punishment system) always profit even if everyone else looses.
It's a driving force behind a reduction in over-policing. When we give them these resources to keep us safe, they all too often use those resources to increase violence, criminality and incarceration.
@58, I'll certainly agree the war on drugs isn't something we want to continue and other countries have done better. However, I still take issue with the statement "decriminalization in Switzerland and Portugal have lead to a decrease in crime and OD's". In both cases, it wasn't just decriminalization. In Switzerland, the four pillars were prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and law enforcement. Expecting that just implementing the harm reduction parts will lead to similar results strikes me as cherry picking facts to support an ideology rather than something that's going to results in some kind of success.
@59: No question just decriminalization alone doesn't work. the unique US challenge is that our law enforcement system as currently constituted and trained is incapable of integrating with people looking for a better outcome than incarceration.
This is not a new problem. American police have tried to integrate with harm reduction, prevention and treatment groups in the past and have consistently been unable to do so. From drug addiction to sex work to domestic violence, groups that attempt to work with them either find them impossible to work with and move on, or are reduced to cheerleaders for the carcearl state who do little more than share in a cut of the fines and work with prosecutors to promote harsher punishments for offenders in Olympia. The center of gravity in US policing policing consistently reduces harm reduction, treatment and prevention to useless appendages of a punishment based ethos.
We have long precedence for this problem in the past. In the 1970's there was a growing concern that we were not addressing domestic violence, but there was some debate over how it should be addressed. In some areas for a short period law enforcement attempted to act as mediators in these disputes and the cops hated it. Their warrior ethos leaves little room for conflict resolution, let along harm reduction and treatment.
Fortunately for them, the VAWA won out in 1994 and the police could return to the door kicking, hand cuffing lifestyle they love. Aya Gruber's excellent book "The Feminist War on Crime: The Unexpected Role of Women's Liberation in Mass Incarceration" does an excellent job documenting this transformation. By this point, there is very little money or imagination left for helping victims of domestic violence. Every penny goes towards more policing, more arrests and longer sentences with terrible outcomes.
This failed model was copied with the war on drugs and the war on sex workers as well. The police quickly suck all financial resources for victims out of the room leaving nothing for those promoting a less than violent solution.
That our police force seems entirely incapable (primarily because so many of them don't think there's a problem) does not give me hope. In Switzerland its not uncommon to simply give free herione to addicts in a controlled environment until they are ready for change. Police officers are there to do things like transport addicts to the clinic for treatment.
In America was must always turn to failed programs like the LEADs program under the consistent assumption that police can force change through the threat of violence if people don't comply. In the case of John schools we don't even pretend like we are interested in helping, depending harsh penalties in addition to John school while sex workers go homeless because we did not alot a penny to provide them with housing.
There is simply little appetite for the harm reduction, prevention and treatment pillars unless they can be bent to fit the law enforcement pillar above all else.
2012 Republican Presidential Debates: Ron Paul addresses the entire GOP audience and asks them point blank "How many of you dont use Heroin just because the government tells you not to do it? Crickets...That's right, you all dont use heroin because its obviously a really bad choice, we dont need our legal system to help us make that decision." Arguing to Republicans, almost a decade ago, to decriminalize heroin really had in impact on me.
@61: It's a very smart point Ron Paul made. Drug addicts typically live a truly miserable life no one would choose to including themselves. They are often made nauseous and sick and suffer other negative outcomes from the very drugs they must take to prevent any even worse outcome. It's no vacation for them them and to think otherwise is to not understand addiction.
This silly idea that they are on this fun filled joy ride and we just need to end all the fun by introducing more suffering into their life through incarceration is as sadistic as it is misguided.
American's have always had a special love for the lash and often believe twisting arms is the best way to win hearts and minds, even though it never works with them. That the enormous prison population we have built parallels the addiction crisis that has not changed at all over the past 50 years shows just how misguided our approach has been.
@62: If you can quote anyone at all who ever claimed addicts "are on this fun filled joy ride," please do so. Public health and safety are the reasons we need to get the addicts off our streets and either into treatment here, or on their way to some other place where they might get it. Camping on the streets, in the parks, and under the highways in Seattle has never been a path out of addiction. Rather, it is a pathway to continued addiction, disease, and death. We do everyone a disservice when we continue to allow it.
@63: For the context you missed, I was responding to petey4420's previous post that at the 2012 Republican Convention Ron Paul asked how many people would choose heroine even if it were legal, to which no one responded they would. He mentioned that he found this persuasive.
Despite the obvious conclusion that no same person would choose drug addiction, many continue to treat it as a moral choice a person can be punished out of despite 50 years of bad outcomes to prove that's not the case.
The "fun filled joyride " part of my statement you quoted as somehow uniquely significant was a rhetorical device called "hyperbole." See now, hyperbole, that's an exaggeration used to make a larger point. Don't tell me people like you don't actually learn fun new stuff on this blog. You can try it at your next dinner party. People will be impressed. Although, from your demeanor here I suspect your that guy at the party who constantly needs jokes explained to him, then wonders why they are not funny after they are explained.
How we address the homeless crisis and it's intersection with drug addiction is a different topic. MikeXM and I spent some time discussing that earlier in the thread. You've made your view on retribution based recovery more than clear here and I have done the same with the healthcare/harm reduction strategy I support. We obviously don't agree, but that's a different topic than the misunderstanding many have that addiction is a choice.
@64: Oh, I missed none of that context. It should be pretty obvious that no sane person would choose to camp on sidewalks, living only for the next drink, smoke, or fix. It should also be pretty obvious that attempts to end addiction via drug prohibition have all failed. (Rep. Paul was, after all, addressing one of the last audiences who don't understand this.)
"...despite 50 years of bad outcomes..."
In what country do you reside? Here in the United States, we're well into our second century of failed drug prohibition policy. Results include the rise of Al Capone (note: more than 50 years ago) and of organized crime generally, which we're still fighting today.
"How we address the homeless crisis and it's intersection with drug addiction is a different topic."
Yes, and ironically, it's one way we could actually use those remaining drug prohibition laws before we retire them (which are not being enforced in Seattle today anyway). Our odious drug prohibition laws give us an excuse to move addicts off our streets, through our courts, and into mandated treatment programs. (Once we rid ourselves of our remaining drug prohibition laws, we can move addicts into treatment via our anti-theft and anti-camping laws.) At the very least, we can actually use our parks for something other than watching addicts die.
"You've made your view on retribution based recovery more than clear..."
So, what artlessly cutesy excuse will you (ab)use to avoid quoting me on that? Here's an example of how to quote me on this topic:
"Addiction is a disease, and blaming a victim of a disease for having a disease is cruel, immoral, and counterproductive. The question is, how best do we assist our fellow humans who suffer from the disease of addiction?"
You can just smell my polished jackboots in that quote, can't you?
@65, "You can just smell my polished jackboots in that quote, can't you?"
Sarcasm! Isn't it refreshing to have someone recognize a rhetorical device without treating it as
a statement of true intention and asking you to explain and defend it?
I'll admit I'm not a close reader of your comments, so if I was wrong that you feel coercion is not part of the solution to homelessness and drug addiction I apologize. What do you propose for homelessness and drug addiction in Seattle?
Also, what exactly was your issue with my original post that lead to to quote my hyperbolic statement in your response? My point was many people believe addiction is a choice that can be solved through coercion. It was part of a longer conversation where every time I mentioned drug treatment someone reflexively responded with law enforcement. Where is your disagreement with my statement?
This is an existential crisis in the sense that these homeless folks have chosen to define themselves as alcoholics and or drug-users with all the negativity that correlates with that tragic choice. Consider too, the blight and public health ramifications of people camping on the streets and sidewalks, and using the green spaces and public restrooms as sanitation areas.
This is certainly a public mental and physical health crisis, and should be treated as such. Many of these street-campers are obviously impoverished, and the aimless tedium of this destructive lifestyle choice and lack of support from community and family only perpetuates this quality-of-life dilemma and leads to drug-involvement.
Seattle must offer a robust solution to this predicament with drug-treatment, housing and medical care. If they can get back on their feet, these dislocated people can rejoin civilization and once again become productive, sober members of our societal franchise.
Seattle has become so economically stratified that many citizens have chosen to simply tune-out this problem and avoid addressing it altogether. Remember, these folks are “camping for real” and in need of professional help. This is no “urban getaway” weekend for a change of scenery.
As you brew your espressos, munch on Biscotti di Prato and shop the Amazon Sexual Health Store, consider the plight of those less fortunate, lacking basics, down in the dust.
@66: Amusing how someone who so confidently tells me what my views are hasn't actually bothered to read my comments all of that closely. (Maybe that's why you can't, not once, not ever, provide so much as one single quote from me to show what my view actually is?)
To answer your question, first, see my previous comment. Second, Seattle is now dealing with a population of chronic addicts who have long refused treatment and help. (Their dismal responses to the old Navigation Team's offers of help show this.) Therefore, we're dealing with people who have well-developed denial and avoidance mechanisms operating. Offer them a stark choice: take treatment programs on our terms, or leave town.
You've correctly noted no one rationally chooses to live the life of a homeless drug addict. By refusing to recognize addiction as the reason for many or most of our homeless being homeless, we've created a system which expects drug addicts to behave rationally to improve their situations. It's time to stop pretending a functional addict, long comfortable in his parasitic lifestyle, will suddenly one day just decide to seek treatment. Sweep all of the camps, every one, every time, and offer the campers a stark choice: accept help or leave. The ones who refuse are beyond our help anyway.
@68: No question I make mistakes, but it's clear from this post I didn't with you. Thank you for being more honest this time.
I gave you the benefit of the doubt since your post about "our fellow human beings" seemed incongruent with even a casual reading of your previous posts about the homeless. Your post here confirms my low opinion of your views and understanding on this topic.
Giving us your "What we've got here is failure to communicate," in the form of "or fellow human beings" is nothing but worthless deflection if you offer nothing more than the failed policy recommendation of sweeps and forced treatment. We've tried that with prison as the treatment and most agree it failed.
You simply want to reintroduce the same failed criminal punishment solution run by the same corrupt law enforcement folks that gave us the shit show of a war on drugs. Why should anyone at this point trust law enforcement to be involved in a solution "while the laws are still on the books" when they have consistently made things worse? I don't know if you've noticed, but law enforcement has earned their status of having no credibility on this topic. I'll say this. You've got some nerve pretending sweeps and forced treatment is about "our fellow human beings."
I have far more respect for the jack boot thugs that don't need to hear Winston tell them he loves big brother before he puts a bullet in his own head. The thugs be just as moral bankrupt, but they don't lie to themselves by pretending they are something they are not.
@69: Amusing how someone who so confidently tells me what my views are hasn't actually bothered to read my comments all of that closely. (Maybe that's why you can't, not once, not ever, provide so much as one single quote from me to show what my view actually is?)
I wrote absolutely nothing about putting homeless campers in jail (although they'd be better off there than outdoors with no sanitation). I did write we should use our laws to provide an incentive for them to get the help they desperately need. As you can't argue with that, you resort to the same failed assumptions and tired personal attacks you always use.
'You've got some nerve pretending sweeps and forced treatment is about "our fellow human beings."'
As opposed to your "plan"? We can't even get the Seattle City Council to admit addiction drives homelessness in Seattle, let alone fund treatment programs. Your fantasy about turning Seattle into Switzerland won't help anyone, at least not anytime soon; the homeless will continue to rot and die in our parks whilst you masturbate in the basement of The Stranger's comment threads. Rousting them out of our parks, our green belts, and off of our sidewalks will at least keep them from continuing to pose a public health and safety problem. It may even get a few of them re-thinking their current lifestyle choices. At least they won't be living rough with fellow addicts, constantly reinforcing their denial and avoidance mechanisms, and constantly stealing to get more drugs.
But go ahead, continue to pretend a desire for clean parks and needle-free playgrounds is one of Umberto Eco's 14 early warning signs of fascism. The rest of us could use the laughs.
Small point about Singapore: It is a "parliamentary democracy" in name only- in order to avoid being banned, the opposition parties there have had to agree to never actually try to defeat the governing party in elections- that governing party, the People's Action Party, has been in power continuously since 1959.
It's also the place where they cane you for petty offenses. That's not something any decent person should want here.
70: There is no good reason to be obsessed with getting the council agree with your views about the role addiction plays- it would make no positive difference in the situation if the council did and authoritarian measures, as the Singapore examples prove, don't stop addiction.
Why are you so fixated on punishing people and assigning yourself the role of deciding who is and who is not given another chance? Kind of a sadistic role to want to play.
And in any case, It's not a decent, humane approach by any measure to focus on trying to solve a problem by driving other human beings away.
Want to get people off drugs? Try offering them so actual hope. Try offering them reason to believe that, if they do get clean, they will gain something for it.
Also, you can't assume that everyone simply "chose" to start taking drugs- that they all woke up one morning and said "I know-I'm gonna trash my life for shits and giggles".
Addiction is usually about killing some sort of pain. Work with people to reduce their pain and you will see much less addiction. The "Just Say NO!" thing never worked when famous pain pill addict Nancy Reagan kept chanting it in the Eighties- hell, two of the three kids who were regular cast members on Different Strokes had substance abuse issues when Nancy taped her "Very Special Episode"- one of them (Dana Plato) died from it.
The War on Drugs never worked. Why on earth are you trying to defend a policy idea that was even less effective than what we did to Vietnam?
@72: Yet another one who criticizes me for words I simply did not write. I clearly agreed that no one sets out to live as an addict, camping in a park. The question is, how do we get the addicts out of our parks? I never advocated an authoritarian, lock-'em-up strategy, but rather make it impossible for anyone to live in Seattle's parks, and offer treatment to anyone currently living there. That's all. Clean parks and needle-free playgrounds should not be negotiable.
The City Council's current "method" is to Blame Amazon. That's all; that's their entire program. They're still in complete denial about the role addiction plays in Seattle's homelessness crisis, as their taking the Blame Amazon Tax money to buy a paltry amount of affordable housing, for addicts who cannot afford housing at any price. Seattle's City Council needs to adopt a reality-based program, not an authoritarian one.
'Also, you can't assume that everyone simply "chose" to start taking drugs- that they all woke up one morning and said "I know-I'm gonna trash my life for shits and giggles".'
That's exactly what Seattle's City Council has repeatedly assumed -- that rent went up, and people responded not by moving away, but by just going into the park across the street, and throwing down a tent. It's an absurd assumption, but they're sticking with it, as homeless people die of drug overdoses and violence.
"Want to get people off drugs? Try offering them so actual hope. Try offering them reason to believe that, if they do get clean, they will gain something for it."
Most of us believe that regular meals and showers would be worth it. Since that does not seem to be working -- and I notice, you utterly failed to define what "hope" meant -- I'll settle for not having filthy, disease-ridden encampments in our parks. They can get with the program or move.
"And in any case, It's not a decent, humane approach by any measure to focus on trying to solve a problem by driving other human beings away."
As you've previously been educated on this point (against your will, may I add), most of Seattle's homeless freely admitted to neither being born here, nor most recently becoming homeless here. We have no reason to allow them to stay in our parks. (Do you imagine camping in our parks makes for a solid pathway out of addiction? Try asking Travis Berge and Lisa Vach.)
I wasn't claiming that none of the homeless came from other places.
My point has been that it doesn't MATTER if they're from other places or claim to be.
The point is that it's no answer to anything by just shut the encampments down and trying to make the people who currently have no alternative but to live in them leave. And in any case, even if the homeless are, in some cases, from somewhere else, it's indecent to drive them away because, wherever they may be from and whatever brought them here, they are our fellow human beings because then they'll just end up in some other city and if you think Seattle has done nothing to deserve this, what has that other city done to deserve it more?. They can't be treated as if they are nothing but two-legged vermin.
Whether or not their issues started in Seattle, the reason most people end up on drugs is that it is a way to ease the pain of life- and most of that pain, wherever these people may have come from, comes from what capitalism does to people. Capitalism causes substance abuse by devaluing, dehumanizing and isolating people, by playing us against each other for the profits of the few.
There is no way that a capitalist country would NOT have a massive problem with substance abuse-it's just that, prior to the 1960s, the substance involved was usually alcohol and, for some reason, people treated alcoholism as though it wasn't as bad as heroin or PCP or meth. It was treated as, essentially, substance abuse that was no big deal.
News flash- there was never any actual difference in the consequences of alcohol abuse or any other form OF substance abuse.
Seattle is part of the capitalist system, and as such shares responsibility with everyplace else that is part of it to heal the wounds capitalism inflicts, wherever it inflicts it- including the wounds caused by the substance abuse it drives people to.
And while I doubt anybody ever actually claimed Amazon was solely responsible for homelessness, Amazon represents some of the worst ways modern capitalism behaves, so it owes it to everyone else to play an active role- and yes, that means a role in which Jeff Bezos would actually have to make a real financial sacrifice- in order to solve it.
What would I call "hope"? How about, for a start, building enough homes to house everybody who is houseless just to give them a chance to breathe easy enough to start considering "getting clean"- nobody can kick while they're houseless and struggling to survive on the daily.
How about setting up jobs programs people could get into in exchange for addressing their substance issues?
How about getting everybody else to stop using dehumanizing language towards the houseless and offering them actual words of support and encouragement?
Revaluing rather than devaluing?
How about ceasing to treat them as if they have no right to be here?
How about organizing volunteer groups to simply clear the refuse away- much of the refuse that shows up in the encampments is not stuff the homeless brought themselves; some idiots delude themselves into thinking that they are in someway helping the homeless by bringing stuff they themselves just want to throw out and leaving it at the encampments, and half the reason those people do that is simply to get out of paying for a "dump run", so how about doing public service advertisements telling the housed NOT to do that?
You aren't talking about solving anything, tensor: you are just demanding that the imperfect be removed from your sight. That's why you get the blowback you do here, and from a lot of people- you aren't interested in making life any better, you just want to be spared the unsightliness of reality, because, in your mind, seeing that reality is somehow an intolerable burden to you.
Nobody is saying that the camps are an optimal solution- it's just that simply removing them is NO solution to anything at all.
And the way to get rid of them is by getting rid of the need for them, not by trying to make their existence impossible.
@60: It was less the "warrior ethos" of the cops, and more our growing recognition that having the cops show up, then leave, put the victims of domestic violence at greater peril. Lo and behold, it turned out a violent abuser doesn't like having his actions questioned by armed authority figures who can legally use violence against him, and takes out that resentment upon the victim(s) after the cops leave. Now, the cops have the abuser in their custody when they leave, so the victim(s) can have some breathing room (and time to flee).
Your hatred of the police must be pretty intense indeed, to criticize them even for removing dangerous threats from homes.
@74: First, let's dispose of your risible pretense to caring about human life. Here (https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2020/12/07/53168733/mayor-jenny-durkan-is-calling-it-quits-after-one-term/comments) is the comment thread where you issue your tut-tutting lecture to us (@28), chastising anyone who would dare mention the deaths of Black men in the CHOP. You were swiftly and brusquely reminded (@31) that three men were violently murdered in the CHOP. @45, you replied that, even though you didn't even know (or care) how many men were murdered in the CHOP, you knew the exact motives for all of the murders -- and specifically, and most importantly, that these murders somehow had nothing to do with the transcendent awesomeness that was the CHOP.
Here in this thread, I mentioned the deaths of Lisa Vach and Travis Berge in Cal Anderson Park (site of the former CHOP), entirely preventable deaths caused by our allowance of camping there. You didn't respond, because you don't care.
Second, if you have to simply make up your own facts, maybe your beliefs need to change? Your silly story about "much of the refuse that shows up in the encampments is not stuff the homeless brought themselves," even if you'd provided a shred of evidence to support it, simply shows we shouldn't allow homeless encampments in the first place. (And why not go further? Why not blame local parents for bloody needles near homeless camps on their children's playgrounds, and for their children's bicycles disappearing into those camps? It's all an evil plot by parents to make the homeless look like thieving junkies!)
And then, we get the real reason you want to allow homeless addicts to rot -- and to die -- in our parks: it's our fault for practicing capitalism! We deserve this, for having built a liberal, prosperous city! Collective responsibility and victim-blaming at the finest.
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