MPD’s Community Law Division was established in 2016 to bring holistic defense to Oregon. The holistic defense model believes that people’s circumstances often lead to involvement in the criminal system. Many of the circumstances that involve people in the criminal system are crimes of poverty, our nations’ poor are over represented in the criminal system:
- 57% of incarcerated men; and
- 72 % of incarcerated women
- have incomes below $22,500 before they were locked away.
The racial wealth gap has also resulted in the imprisonment of more people of color. In 2014 a study showed white households had 17 times the wealth of black households. For Oregonians the results are clear, a black person is SIX times more likely than a white person to be in jail.
Once a person touches the criminal justice system, barriers are established that prevent them from successfully gaining employment, housing, and even a driver’s license. A simple unpaid parking ticket may result in arrest, which leads to loss of employment, and loss of housing. Regaining these things with a criminal record, is near impossible.
MPD Community Law Division provides civil legal assistance with the goal of providing stability in the lives of our clients reducing their involvement in the criminal justice system.
The Community Law Division also encompasses Immigration Defense Oregon, which is the only provider of free removal defense work in Oregon. You can read more about it here.
Holistic defense is a national model that works. A 10 year study on holistic defense found:
- People spent 1.1. Million less days in custody;
- There was a 16% reduction in incarceration rates;
- And, taxpayers were saved $165 Million in housing costs alone.
MPD believes the time to reform Oregon’s criminal system is now and that is why it is proud to have launched the Community Law Division.