Friday, April 16, 2010

When the shit hits close to home...

If you know me, you know that the "War On Drugs" hits very close to home for me, in so many ways. My youngest brother was a convicted felon before he was old enough to have a driver's license, due to crimes committed in an effort to support his drug addiction and our state's willingness to try children as adults so politicians can get votes.

The War on Drugs is responsible for a particular incident in my own life that, ironically, was both the biggest reason for my decision to enlist in the United States Marine well as being the cause of my getting booted for fraudulent enlistment. The real irony? I had, at that point, never even smoked a cigarette. My "experimentation with drugs", at the time, consisted of taking a single sip of champagne at a wedding when I was twelve.

In the past week, there have been three incidents that severely trouble my heart.

I was made aware of the first incident via a friend of mine working for the Brazoria County Sheriff's Office. I was told of how a classmate and mutual friend of ours had gone down a different route, and had somehow gotten tangled up in methamphetamine.

The second was a major bust involving nine people in Brazoria County (including a girl I didn't personally know, but was known by friends of mine) involving the meth trade.

The third incident is, tonight, a "web-first breaking news" story about 16 high school kids being arrested for drugs at Columbia High School in West Columbia, TX today.

Now, before I go any further, I'll come right out and say that I am "old school". I was born in the latter part of the Carter administration, which means that Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign was coming about in full swing when I entered the first grade.

My mother, a drug abuser, was also a registered nurse...which means I had access to her textbooks when I'd go to visit as a youngster. Me, being the introverted little shit that I was, liked to read a lot....and I learned quite a bit about the effects of drugs. I also went to a public high school, and had health class. I knew drugs were bad for you.

The thing that really taught me what was up, however, was having a father to teach me. I distinctly remember driving through Houston one day with him as a teenager, and we had stopped at a gas station. If memory serves, it was because he needed a beer, but I suppose that's probably not important. Anyhow, there was a toothless bum wearing a ripped t-shirt in the middle of February, begging for change. My father looked at me and said, "See that? That's what drugs do to you." Needless to say, I've got enough problems, I never felt the need to complicate them with a crack pipe.

Obviously, there are all manner of crimes assorted with drugs. You get murder, robbery, and theft when people can't afford their fix, can't pay their drug debts, can't report being ripped off, et cetera.

You can't open a newspaper today without reading a story about this happening last night. Mexico, formerly an impoverished nation that relied upon American tourist dollars, is now even poorer because Americans are afraid to travel there. In Ciudad Juarez, the drug cartels have reportedly completely taken over and now essentially own the city.

Right here in America, people are being arrested in record numbers for drug offenses.

Is it worth it? Not quite.

Drugs are bad, m'kay? Meth, coke, smack, et cetera will KILL YOU. If it doesn't kill you while you're doing it, it's going to kill you slowly over an extended period of time. Everyone with half a brain knows this.


If you're too ignorant to know that snorting anything made out of anti-freeze, rat poison, diesel engine starting fluid, et cetera isn't bad for you, making it against the law won't help.

Does it suck to have some crackhead rip off your shit? Of course it does. Are our drug laws working? Hell, no!

Imagine, if you will, that meth, smack, coke, pot, et cetera are instantly legalized in this nation. What happens?

Instantly, a full 20% of prisoners are no longer the responsibility of the American taxpayer, because they don't stay locked up for the nonviolent offense of merely being in possession of, or selling, drugs.

Then, the majority of our law enforcement resources are freed up, because we don't have years-long investigations into someone selling meth from their backyard lab. Assaults drop when drug debts gone bad are handled in the courts. Tax bases are instantly multiplied, because dealers get out of the black market and start selling in regulated markets. Drugs become harder for the average teenager to get, because dealers know they have to ask for ID or go to jail.

Most normal people don't smoke crack, snort meth, shoot smack, et cetera. Those who choose to do it will continue to do it, regardless of evident by what I've seen this past week. You can't legislate intelligence. I wouldn't snort coke if it were legal. Would you?

So where does drug legalization and regulation leave us? Less expense, more resources. This allows our law enforcement agencies to go after that crackhead that stole your shit.

I read yesterday about nine people getting busted for a "meth ring". The investigation lasted for more than a year, and tied up resources from several jurisdictions. Before the news was even printed, someone else had already fired up another meth lab, because methheads aren't going anywhere. Seriously, you can cook it up in a 2-liter bottle as you drive down the street. You ain't gonna win that war!

So now, a select nine people have been arrested. Millions of tax dollars were pissed away to do this. These people have lost everything but their lives, if convicted. The charges carry a mandatory ten year sentence, with a maximum of LIFE IMPRISONMENT. Their property has been seized. Their families are destroyed.

Did it put any kind of dent in the meth epidemic we're facing in this nation? Hell, no. It didn't even put a dent in the meth problem IN THIS COUNTY. Someone else already had a batch cooking up before the high these people were responsible for had worn off. "Getting meth heads off the street"? Give that bullshit to someone who might buy it, because I know better.

"Injustice" occurs when our laws do more harm than the potential harm they are designed to prevent.

Just like an accidental head injury, you may recover from a meth addiction. You may not. That's the chance you take when you decide to snort meth. You can arrest a dozen people per year (which is far better than our local authorities are doing) for cooking meth, and you'll have ten dozen others who are ready, willing, and able to take their place the next day.

I don't know the people who got busted...their lives may have been salvageable, they may not have been. However, I will say this to the law enforcement agencies responsible for the busts:

A) You did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to stop the meth issues in this county.

B) You have completely destroyed the lives of nine people, as well as the lives of their loved ones.

C) You have cost the taxpayers of this nation, and specifically this county, an immense amount of money with this "intense investigation", and again, you truly accomplished NOTHING.

D) With the mandatory minimum sentencing of the charges, you have saddled this nation with at least five million dollars worth of expenses in nothing more than incarceration for these people. This doesn't cover expenses relating to court costs, appeals, et cetera...and certainly doesn't even get started on the millions of dollars spent on the initial investigation.

1 comment:

  1. since 1998 C.O.P.S gave almost $448 million in grants to help stop meth abuse and manufacturing. I wonder how much went toward treatment facilities as opposed to law enforcement. I can get behind aggressive assualt of drug enforcement if the result is aggressive treatment programs, but not excessive, un-neccessary jail time, which I agree, is a waste of time and money