Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel unveiled a new program designed to shut the revolving door to the county jail, at least for some offenders. Like the fairy tale for which it was named, Goldilocks aims to find an outcome that’s just right for different levels of drug offenders.
Success, presumably, would make the county a safer place to live.
Those caught with small amounts of controlled substances will be offered treatment rather than prosecution. Those charged with delivering or manufacturing minor amounts of the substances and those who failed at the first level will be treated as they would be today: They will be prosecuted, and at least some will be eligible for the county’s drug court. Finally, the most serious offenders will held for federal prosecutors. They face both stiffer sentences and very little opportunity for parole if convicted at the federal level.
When Hummel first ran for the district attorney’s job in 2014, he promised “to develop and enhance innovative crime-prevention programs that reduce our crime rate and help those suffering from mental illness and addiction issues.” Goldilocks is part of that effort.
By offering low-level offenders treatment Hummel hopes to accomplish a couple of things. If treatment is successful, Goldilocks will have helped addicts shake their addiction and, presumably, become more productive members of society who commit no further crimes. Theft and substance abuse are closely linked in the crime world, and reducing addiction could serve to reduce theft as well.
And, by turning the worst offenders over to the federal court system, he will have helped to assure that those who really do belong behind bars go there and stay there.
There’s another good thing about Goldilocks. If it doesn’t live up to Hummel’s expectations, he says he will either change the program or scrap it altogether. That’s encouraging. Too often, bureaucrats have such a vested interest in their creations they’re unwilling to dump or change them if things don’t work out as planned.