Pubdate: [Tue, 15 Oct 1996]
Source: Oregonian (OR)
Author: Phil Smith

According to your Oct. 3 article, "Group will study Portland's drug-abuse,"
15.2 percent of all Portland jail inmates in 1995 tested positive for
methamphetamine, and 65 percent to 68 percent tested positive for illegal
drug use.

If the Drug Use Forecasting program and The Oregonian are going to cite
such statistics, they should also note the percentages of people arrested
on drug charges.

According to official records reported every Thursday in The Oregonian,
more than 55 percent of all felons sentenced to jail or prison by Multnomah
County courts so far in 1996 have been controlled-substance offenders. It
would not be surprising if 15 percent of all arrestees tested positive for
meth in 1995 because 15 percent of all arrestees were busted for meth. Nor
should it be surprising if 65 percent to 68 percent of all arrestees tested
positive for illegal drugs if about the same proportion of people were
arrested for them.

There *is* a correlation between illegal drugs and crime: The more we pit
limited resources against the laws of supply and demand, the fewer
resources we have to fight real criminals who steal from or use violence
against others.

Phil Smith
Northeast Portland