Sunrise over Portland Oregon-cm

Over the past year, I’ve written about the decriminalization of two of the biggest problems facing the residents of the Portland metropolitan area and Oregon—drug use and homelessness. Now, some people are hoping to add prostitution to the list of illicit activities that will be allowed to take place in this state.

Efforts are underway to gather enough signatures to place a ballot decriminalizing sex work on a future ballot for voters to decide. This is the same process that was used two years ago to legalize the possession of user amounts of extremely dangerous drugs like methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine.

The promise made to voters was that instead of ending up in the criminal justice system, low-level drug offenders would be offered the treatment that they need. But it hasn’t quite worked out that way.

There was never the capacity in place to handle the numbers of people who have sought treatment after the ballot measure passed and took effect. As a result, there are no consequences for those addicts.

Many addicts only get better because they were forced to by the criminal justice system. They reached rock bottom, in part, because of the legal consequences of their substance abuse. But that is no longer happening in Oregon.

Similarly, homelessness has been decriminalized through the passage of legislation at the state capitol in Salem.

Some would argue that drug use and prostitution are victimless crimes. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is, addicts’ families go through hell watching their loved ones struggle to get clean and stay that way. And not more than a few addicts steal to fuel their habits, resulting in rampant property crime. It’s also very well known that many people who work in the sex industry got there as a result of human trafficking, which is one of the worst crimes imaginable.

It stands to reason that once you’ve legitimized and legalized something, you will end up with more of it. Are homelessness or drug use decreasing in Oregon, or are they increasing? I see no evidence that either of these things are getting better.

A prime example of this is happening in California right now. That state decided to decriminalize petty theft, and it is now going through the roof. Stores and national chains are closing their doors because of the losses caused by the kinds of brazen thefts that state government is tacitly encouraging.

I used to be proud to say that Oregon was a great place to raise a family. It was safe, the schools were good and there was quality of life.

All of that has become more difficult to truthfully tell folks from out of state who ask how things are here. As it is, many families have already left for other states because they were discouraged by the problems they see getting worse over time. Some of the biggest reasons they left included homelessness and drug use. The decriminalization of sex work and prostitution will not help do anything but convince more families to pack up and leave Oregon.

  1. Hello, Well said. Am new to Oregon and have feared that I should have moved elsewhere. Now that I’m here. How can I help? At this time, my best guess is be employed, pay my taxes, and vote sensibly. If there is more for me to do, please advise. Best regards,

  2. Jeannine says:

    Hello Tootie,
    I agree with you 100%. I voted against the laws we currently have that allow people to be in possession of drugs without legal consequences. I am also against the petty theft that has been decriminalized. These things as well as allowing homeless to live in public spaces have made Portland (and other parts of Oregon) a high crime place to live. I have been in this area since I was 7 and so have my siblings. We are all in our 40’s and 50’s. Most of my family/relatives and many friends have moved away and have found much better places in America to live: cleaner, safer places with much better laws. Now, sadly, my husband and I are looking at other states to live because we used to love it here but it’s a completely different place now. We would like to stay if big changes are made here. We are praying for those changes but don’t know how to make them happen. Almost everything we vote against still gets voted in, and vice versa. Ridiculous things that should never be put on a ballot are voted in and then never evaluated to see if they are helping or hurting. It’s discouraging. It seems the people in charge have no common sense. We currently live outside of Portland near Sandy (Clackamas County) and crime is very noticeable all around us. We have over 30 homeless people living on our short, dead end road. They took over a bank owned home with about 5 acres. Our neighborhood has come together several times and tried to get them off the property through legal actions and the local police department. It’s been over 2 years. The police are aware that there are illegal activities happening on the property. I have not been able to let my kids play in the front yard for 2 years because the cars constantly going by our house, on our once very quiet, short road, are mostly stolen vehicles with no license plates and drivers who appear to be daily drug users. This scenario on our road is becoming common place in Oregon. The criminals are literally taking over and the people trying to live right seem to have no recourse when we are victims of their criminal lifestyles. If there are some things we can do to help, please let us know.

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