Democratic candidate for governor Danielle Allen wants to decriminalize personal possession of drugs like heroin and cocaine if elected governor, a change she called “essential” to treating substance-use disorder and getting addicts out of the criminal justice system.
“We need to make sure people have help, not handcuffs,” the Harvard professor and nonprofit leader said Tuesday.
Allen’s plan to address drug addiction also relies on increasing access to in-patient substance use disorder treatment beds and seeks to reframe how people view addiction and recovery.
Allen said she was inspired to pursue criminal justice reforms in honor of her cousin, who she said struggled with addiction and was shot and killed after serving prison time for attempted carjacking charges.
Allen’s plan would impose a civil fine for personal drug use and possession charges rather than punitive action. Fines could be waived if a person participates in a screening to identify treatment needs.
Allen will face off against Attorney General Maura Healey and state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz in a Democratic primary in September. The Republican candidates are former Whitman state Rep. Geoff Diehl and Wrentham businessman Chris Doughty.