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The city will use $1 million in funds diverted from its police budget to expand substance use treatments and harm reduction services for low-income people in Austin and Travis County.
Efforts to address the harms of police violence and incarceration must consider the drug war, activists and treatment professionals note, including the punitive models of treatment.
Social distancing orders are a necessity, but they create a host of new problems for people in treatment for substance use disorders.
In Travis County, thousands of people continue to be prosecuted for low-level drug possession charges that reform-minded district attorneys elsewhere have committed to dropping.
Arthur’s story speaks to a troubling tendency in the legal system, reform advocates say: to treat mental health crises as criminal matters, rather than matters of public health.
As a form of punishment, incarceration does not enhance public safety when it is not balanced against its tendency to make a person’s unfortunate situation worse.