Prisons are Dangerous –  

Sept. 3, 2020 – This semi-normal life, combined with my White skin and the fact that I lived in an under-policed suburban neighborhood, allowed me to evade criminal justice involvement for years.

All good things come to an end. I was arrested for the first time at age 23, still in my work uniform from the pizza place. Possession of heroin was a Class B felony in Oregon at the time. I knew that if I was found guilty, I would likely lose my EMT license and any chance of a future career in the medical field. I was pretty sure it would also ruin my financial aid and make it hard for me to find housing or jobs. A felony is forever. It was as if being addicted to heroin wasn’t miserable enough and the system making things more miserable would make me stop using. 

Motivated by the fear of that felony, I opted for drug court. If I successfully completed it, the charge would be wiped from my record. So I went to detox and then a drug treatment program (thanks to still being covered by my mom’s health insurance). I also got lucky and found a Suboxone doctor who was accepting patients. 

I was doing better—using only occasionally—until I was arrested by the sheriff’s office. A scrap of plastic they’d found in my mess of a car was swabbed and tested positive for heroin. It could have been in there for months. After I was taken into custody, they supposedly found less than a tenth of gram embedded in the seat upholstery.

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