Seattle’s Hands-Off Experiment with Policing Drugs Could Provide Model

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Late last year, prosecutors in King County, which encompasses Seattle and neighboring Snohomish County, became the first in the nation to stop charging people for possessing small amounts of drugs — heroin, meth and crack included — in virtually all cases. Many people who once would have been locked up are now immediately offered help. It is a profound shift that builds on efforts launched here in recent years to divert low-level drug offenders into treatment and other programs to assist with recovery, The Washington Post reports.

The outcome of the trial effort could help reshape the nation’s approach to substance abuse and criminal justice. Last month, Philadelphia’s district attorney, Larry Krasner, said he was “close” to implementing a similar policy, while Boston’s recently elected prosecutor, Rachael Rollins, ran on a platform promising the same thing. Under the new plan, anyone caught with less than a gram of any illegal drug will not be prosecuted, although police can lobby prosecutors to charge someone who is a danger. At the same time, there was a push to expand treatment.

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