Salvador A. Mungia (Sal), former president of the Washington State Bar Association, is an attorney in Tacoma. Sal believes that providing people treatment, and not locking them behind bars, is the best way to combat substance use disorder.
“Too often we try to solve societal problems with the criminal legal system, which is a blunt, overused hammer that doesn’t work.
“Nothing about our approach to substance use has changed since Nixon, and we haven’t seen any improvement. Countries that have decriminalized drugs don’t have this enormous health crisis of substance use, overdose deaths, suicides, and broken families.”
Mungia says he believes it is in everyone’s interest to help people avoid, reduce, and end drug use, and the best way to do this is with education, treatment, and recovery support. “Without reform, we’ll just be stuck paying the huge public expenses of incarceration, instead of investing wisely in more cost-effective strategies for preventing substance use from destroying lives.”