Two months are in the books. Recall that true transparency means sharing the good, the bad & the feo. And so, here it is.
- The Jail, Covid & Treatment for Substance Use Disorder
At the start of the pandemic, Ms. LaWall authored a memo to law enforcement reporting that she would largely not be charging simple drug possession. This did, in fact, help keep people out of the Pima County Jail (PCJ), which is significant with detention facilities being one of the most dangerous places for virus contagion. Despite best efforts and setting a national record for keeping the virus out of the jail for so long, Covid finally arrived in December.
In my view, jail is not a place to house people with substance use disorders, but without any intervention at all, the overdose rate also spiked in our community. These matters are complex.
There is cautious optimism that the PCJ may have rid itself this week of the virus, and I will be working with our public health partners to track how long to wait to see whether we can rely on this positive sign. With the STEPs court opening (the County’s first pre-charge drug treatment court), it may soon be time to allow the jail to be a brief way station from drug possession on the street to meaningful inpatient treatment.
- Homicide Trends
The data from the first 6 weeks of 2021 look remarkably similarly to the first 6 weeks of 2020, when the homicide rate spiked. In the first month, there were no obvious trends that PCAO were identifying in location, parties or motive. Now, there seems to be a trend towards domestic violence. Tamara Mulembo, our Chief Deputy, is meeting late today, after this post, with the Domestic Abuse Coalition (formerly RAMP), which includes all major DV community partners to make sure we are doing everything possible to help our community look out for one another. In a time of increased isolation due to the virus, wave hello, deliver food, help where you can, and in so doing, if you see something, say something.
PCAO Victim Services, 520-724-5525 (Ask for the Advocate of the Day)
Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse, 520-795-4266
- Now Hiring
For the first month, the front door of the Legal Services Building was quiet. No one was knocking, and not just because we had a Covid outbreak. So, I wondered. Apparently, the community was giving us a grace period to settle in and try to find restrooms and water coolers, because now the doors are knocking, the windows rattling, and the phones ringing with some of the community’s most talented legal researchers, litigators & professional staff.
In particular, we have been in back-to-back interviews with three distinct pools of attorneys: students who want to be law clerks; new grads who want to start their careers with us; and seasoned attorneys who want to join our movement. Now this is something to be truly hopeful about.
To be continued,