A shift in prosecuting strategy that allows some drug offenders to be charged with misdemeanors instead of felonies led to plummeting felony conviction rates for all racial demographics in Multnomah County, according to a Sept. 15 Criminal Justice Commission report.
Multnomah County adopted the policy change last year, months before the state passed a law in August 2017 allowing some felony drug possession charges to be reduced to misdemeanors. The county immediately saw the number of felony drug convictions drop sharply, though it had been already been on a slight decline.
Prosecutors in Multnomah County went even further than House Bill 2355 prescribed, allowing people to avoid felony convictions even in some circumstances when a defendant is involved in low-level drug sales or has a previous felony conviction.
The new approach has dramatically decreased the number of felony drug convictions in the county—and at the same time racial disparities among those individuals who were convicted of felony drug charges has fallen.Read More (Offsite)