According to Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier, his office has been chronically understaffed leading to a backlog of 1400 cases. Ballot measure 6-213, the so-called “safety levy” will enable the office to hire two additional attorneys and increase the jail capacity by another 49 beds. Given the voter-approved Measure 110 to decriminalize possession of small quantities of drugs is likely to be undone by the legislature we can expect a surge in drug possession arrests making more beds an attractive option to local law enforcement agencies.

Regardless of where you stand on Measure 110 there is an interesting and concerning statistic about incarceration rates in Oregon. According to, “Oregon has an incarceration rate of 555 per 100,000 people … meaning that it locks up a higher percentage of its people than almost any democratic country on earth.”

Increasing incarceration rates has an air of repeating the same tactics and expecting different results. The other concern is the proposed levy does nothing to address the real threat to public safety derived from law enforcement agency failures to acknowledge and address gender bias when dealing with domestic violence and sexual assault victims. Are police going to focus on the low-hanging fruit of minor drug possession while continuing to let sexual assault suspects walk the streets?

Sheriff Gabe Fabrizio has ignored my request for policy info on his agency’s handling of gender bias. Valarie Smith, an alleged rape victim complained about the deputy handling her case and has never received any feedback. Even former Sheriff Zanni returned calls and answered emails.

Having personally experienced the added insult of having the perpetrator of a crime of vandalism against my home get off with a slap on the wrist and further being forced to go into a courtroom with this man twice to get restitution, I should be in favor of more deputy district attorneys. Unfortunately, like the current sheriff, they have chosen to ignore victims’ concerns and neither Frasier nor Deputy DA Bennett Wahl could be bothered to reply to my queries. Their backlog does not excuse unprofessional conduct or apparent disdain for victims’ concerns. For this reason alone, I am disinclined to support this levy.

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