Fentanyl crackdown will make things worse for women | Opinion

Fentanyl crackdown will make things worse for women | Opinion

Christie Donner

Christie Donner

When ladies are not involved in the option, we will generally pay out the price tag. The fentanyl and overdose public overall health disaster is alarming, and it truly is previous time that Colorado lawmakers make investments in evidence-based mostly alternatives. These alternatives ought to account for the methods females, precisely BIPOC ladies and their small children, are affected by unsuccessful drug war insurance policies and biases in accessibility to compound use remedy.

The clamor to boost penalties for straightforward possession of fentanyl from a misdemeanor to a felony in HB22-1326 comes mostly from legislation enforcement who argue that they want the felony “hammer” to power people into remedy and that they just can’t arrest people today for drug possession because it’s “only” a misdemeanor. The two claims don’t increase up to what professionals in the discipline are seeing and each claims are harmful for women.

Lisa Calderón

Lisa Calderón

Rather, re-felonizing easy possession of drugs perpetuates a dominance-by-pressure culture by boasting that arresting gals who are having difficulties with dependancy and placing them in a cage is someway a way to “help” them. Folks must fully grasp that the path to habit for gals is virtually normally critical histories of trauma, sexual assault, and violent victimization, usually repeat victimization. Utilizing a “hammer” towards these women and locking them up is not the response.

Regulation enforcement officers are not specialists in habit or recovery. Developing humane and equitable pathways to recovery for ladies should incorporate harm reduction and general public wellbeing gurus. Evidence shows us that felonizing gals is misinformed and we mustn’t give credence to these kinds of policy strategies.

It’s only been considering that March 2020, that easy drug possession has been a misdemeanor in an attempt to recalibrate the aim on avoidance, diversion and therapy, and much less on punishment and incarceration. There has been no tie in between felony drug possession legislation and a lessen in drug offenses, much less overdose deaths, and felony possession laws did nothing to get fentanyl off the streets and out of our communities.

And we’ve been down this road right before. A search back again may well be instructive.

Only 4{a0ae49ae04129c4068d784f4a35ae39a7b56de88307d03cceed9a41caec42547} of the world’s woman population lives in the U.S., but the U.S. accounts for approximately 30{a0ae49ae04129c4068d784f4a35ae39a7b56de88307d03cceed9a41caec42547} of the world’s incarcerated gals, with Colorado’s female incarceration price above the nationwide normal.

Women in the U.S. have seen an 800{a0ae49ae04129c4068d784f4a35ae39a7b56de88307d03cceed9a41caec42547} maximize in incarceration around the previous number of a long time. The increase in charges of incarcerated gals is said to be the final result of far more expansive legislation enforcement efforts, stiff drug sentencing legal guidelines, and post-conviction boundaries. More than just one in four of these women are incarcerated on drug convictions. In addition, Black girls are 1.7 periods and Latinx girls are 1.3 moments extra probably to be incarcerated than white ladies. 

To make matters worse, we know that Black gals in Colorado do not have positive results with diversion and treatment applications. The explanation remaining, they are not related to them in the very first position. For case in point, Black gals make up 27{a0ae49ae04129c4068d784f4a35ae39a7b56de88307d03cceed9a41caec42547} of the Denver County jail populace, but they only account for 7{a0ae49ae04129c4068d784f4a35ae39a7b56de88307d03cceed9a41caec42547} of diversion referrals and just 6{a0ae49ae04129c4068d784f4a35ae39a7b56de88307d03cceed9a41caec42547} of admissions. Black ladies know intimately what felonzing signifies for them and their families — a lifetime of limitations to economic stability, steady housing, instruction, and wellbeing.

And finally, a lot more than fifty percent of incarcerated females in the U.S. are moms and that does not contain the selection of ladies who will give beginning although incarcerated. Small children with an incarcerated dad or mum undergo long lasting outcomes on their properly-staying with an elevated threat of psychological and behavioral difficulties, inadequate snooze and lousy nutrition, unstable houses, and increased odds of moving into the prison justice method by themselves.

The amended version of the bill will felonize basic possession of extra than 1 gram for men and women addicted to fentanyl and any other drug with trace quantities of fentanyl existing. When the invoice retains the misdemeanor, it does so at a substantially reduced amount. The conclusion to reduced the quantity was not based mostly on proof or exploration, but the anxiety all around fentanyl. As poor as this is, we implore the legislature not to make matters even worse by heading down to grams.

A felony should under no circumstances be the ticket to therapy and diversion chances. There is still time to make this monthly bill much better.

As women of all ages and topic issue specialists, we are pleading with our condition leaders to remember the girls who will be negatively impacted and whose life will be designed worse if we don’t to start with and foremost handle compound use addiction with on-demand therapy, restoration supports, and compassion. BIPOC ladies should have equivalent obtain to quality prevention, treatment method, and recovery packages. And little ones deserve to not be torn away from their moms.

Christie Donner is executive director of the Colorado Prison Justice Reform Coalition. Lisa Calderón is a board member of the Colorado Latino Discussion board.