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Spokane Meaningful Movies Presents “Philly D.A. – Episode 6” By Linda Greene

by June 18, 2021 0

The June Meaningful Movies Event organized by Spokane showed the 6th episode of Independent Lens’ powerful documentary series “Philly D. A.” outlining Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s uphill battle to decline prosecution of simple drug possession as well as attempt to create a safe place for addicts to administer their drugs. Neighborhood groups and police officers say it is necessary to jail drug users to make their neighborhoods safe. Nixon’s War on Drugs began a national witch hunt for anyone with drugs on their person, leading to mass incarceration and long prison sentences for drug users, even though most were not committing violent crimes. The Philadelphia police union and Krasner’s opponents continue with this mindset, although statistics show that a community is not safer when drug users are simply jailed. Many also oppose safe injection sites which would provide trained health care personnel to oversee users as they inject their drugs, thereby preventing death from overdose.  Krasner noted that over a thousand people in Philadelphia die every year from drug overdose, which could be prevented with safe injection sites. 

Spokane Meaningful Movies’ invited guest, Hallie Burchinal, told her powerful story of overcoming poverty, addiction and houselessness to becoming the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Compassionate Addiction Therapy (CAT) in downtown Spokane. CAT has 13 full time employees, 2 part time employees and a monthly budget of $60,000. Begun in 2019, it provides compassionate, holistic care to people suffering from substance use disorders in a safe and therapeutic environment. Open every weekday from 8am to 6 pm, CAT is committed to harm reduction, focusing on positive change, and working with people without judgement, coercion, discrimination, or requiring that they stop using drugs as a precondition of support. As Hallie says “Community is at the heart of CAT. We work together to create a safe and welcoming Recovery Community with assessments, Intensive Outpatient Programs and Medication Assisted Treatment available to support you in your journey in recovery.” Empathy is at the core of CAT’s work, building relationships with people they serve, understanding that each journey will look different depending on the individual.

Hearing of CAT’s work was incredibly inspirational and hopeful. Hallie repeatedly told of the importance of humanizing the most vulnerable in Spokane, the many houseless souls we see on our streets. The houseless and addicted are not the Other. We must understand and acknowledge our common humanity. 

 

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