P.A.A.R.I. cofounder and chair John Rosenthal was quoted this week in a Boston Globe story regarding a proposal to eliminate criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of any controlled substances.
Gubernatorial candidate and Harvard Professor Danielle Allen has said that, if elected, she would push to reclassify nonviolent, personal use possession of controlled substances as a civil infraction that is subject to a fine instead of jail time. Allen would leave in place criminal penalties for larger amounts of drugs that would trigger distribution or trafficking charges.
P.A.A.R.I. supports using arrests as a last resort, and has worked to help police use non-arrest pathways and jail diversion as a critical tool in the battle against substance use disorder, but believes that criminal penalties can still provide a tool for pushing people toward treatment and recovery in the most extreme cases.
“Certainly, arrest is a last resort, but in some cases, it’s an effective tool to force someone into a jail setting, if necessary, where they have access to treatment, if nothing else works,” said John Rosenthal, founder and board chairman of the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, which he said opposes decriminalization of personal-use possession, including for heroin.
“There’s no reason to throw that tool out of the tool box,” he said.
To read the Boston Globe story in full, click here.