Maybe it’s time to bring the ‘war’ home
Had quite a few calls on last week’s column regarding our growing methamphetamine problem. If you missed it, I pretty much said it was time to tackle that epidemic head-on because there’s no escape. Not in Wyoming. Not in Kansas. Not in Georgia. Not in Iowa, where the meth problem has grabbed America by its very Heartland.
If you are someone who likes to cook methamphetamine in a bathtub (that’s where many like to mix the red phosphorous with the other chemicals used to make the stuff), then you wouldn’t have liked last week’s column. That’s because I suggested you ought to be put in prison until your teeth fall out.
“We don’t need more prisons, we need more treatment centers!” some of you shouted. I agree. But we don’t have the time or the money to treat someone who doesn’t want to be treated. After seven or eight trips to the treatment center at taxpayer expense, with a few burglaries and robberies sprinkled in between therapy sessions at the victim’s expense, prison might be the best treatment you can get.
That’s assuming that you can’t get drugs inside a jail or prison cell, which is not the case. It’s pretty bad when our own state prison guards have a gang. Investigators learned last month of a gang of correctional officers calling themselves the Green Wall, or Green something or other. They even have their own gang hand signals, twisting their fingers into the shape of a G and a W. That’s what happens when you have too much time on your hands.
So it might be a good idea to make sure that our “War On Drugs” starts behind bars, where we put people with drug problems. I know that’s asking a lot, given our prisoners’ rights and all. Heaven forbid we violate an inmate’s constitutional rights by making it tough to get high in jail.
If you are someone who likes to cook methamphetamine near a school, which is where a couple of crank heads were cooking it – up near Lymon Gilmore School recently, then you really wouldn’t have liked last week’s column. That’s because I said you should be put in jail forever, or at least until your arms get too saggy to find a vein.
If you are a mom or dad of a middle school or high school student, this is where you might want to close your ears: You can buy drugs on campus easier than you can buy a book.
Just ask your kids.
I also got a few calls from some loved ones of drug users. That’s right. Most of these drug users are just like us. They have sons, daughters, moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas. Imagine trying to rescue a loved one from the death grip of a drug addiction. Most of us don’t need to imagine because we’ve been there. I have a couple of sisters who have been battling drug and alcohol problems their entire lives. They’ve been in and out of some of the best treatment centers in the world and still can’t escape the demons.
They were little girls once. Playing with dolls, jumping rope, giggling at cartoons. Somewhere along the way, they made a wrong turn. That’s all it comes down to most of the time. Some of us turn right and some turn left.
One woman told me her two sons are in jail today. “We moved here (to Nevada County) for the same reason most do,” she told me. “I wanted to raise my boys in a good place. And they were good boys. They played sports. They did well in school.”
Then one day one of the boys traded his truck for $50 worth of methamphetamine.
Sometimes even good parenting doesn’t work.
In other words, this drug problem of ours has many heads to it. There is no one solution. But it seems to me our government needs to take another look at how it spends its money. I don’t mind being the world’s cop so long as our own house is in order. Maybe it’s time to take some of that money we spend on weapons, money we spend to prop up foreign nations, and money we flush on government waste, and invest it in creating a healthier nation.
A man with a long history of drug abuse grabbed an 11-year-old girl off a Florida street last week, raped and murdered her. We are worried about terrorists from abroad, and we have monsters roaming our neighborhoods.
Does anyone see a problem with this picture?
Our headlines shout out the latest military casualty in Iraq, while our inside pages detail our domestic killings. How many drive-by shootings do we have in L.A. in one week? Where is the public outcry over that?
We have more than 638 inmates awaiting death on death row in California, some of them for more than one murder.
Terrorism? We don’t need to look in Iraq or Afghanistan or Syria for to find terrorists. They’re all around us.
Maybe it’s time to look in the mirror. Perhaps we shouldn’t be boasting about what a great nation we are, encouraging others to be just like us. I don’t like the way we look today, and it’s time we addressed that.
Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears each Tuesday.
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