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Heroin – Law – Compassion

Heroin – Law – Compassion

Heroin is truly the playground of the Devil

PROLOGUE:  “Heroin – Punishment/Rehabilitation (Mandated)” I believe it is an absolute disgrace that we have never built a confinement rehabilitation facility especially for Heroin addiction. Requesting voluntary rehabilitation in lieu of jail (with jail following failure) without advocating confinement rehabilitation centers, is the idea of those that know little about the power of addiction. This is not a successful approach for addiction – especially heroin abuse. The choice should be regular jail or a jail designed completely around rehabilitation. The negligence in the Criminal Justice arena is reckless, cruel and socially incredibly foolish. It is well known our jails do not work. They create criminals and enhance further drug use. America has 330 million people with 2,193.798 imprisoned. China has one billion, 420 million people with 1,548.498 imprisoned. On September 28, 1948 (in Paris, France) Eleanor Roosevelt received a standing ovation for her speech on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with fundamental freedoms and fairness that applied to everyone on earth. In this vital arena of Human Rights, where is greatness today?

“You treat us like a dad. Lots of us ain’t got no dad, you treat us like a dad.” I reached over the seat and shook his hand while staring into his eyes. And, in that man to man way that young men have, he quietly left the taxi. I drove a taxi in Syracuse for several years. I roamed the streets six nights a week, twelve hours a night. Few, other than policemen accumulate inner city, inter-human experiences on such a personal level. I learned many things on the streets. Perhaps most importantly I learned that those involved with drugs are seldom inherently bad individuals. Most are victims. They are born into a culture of disadvantage. Poverty and lack of opportunity are extreme.
Parental guidance is often severely impaired and even when present in this culture of poverty the streets usually win. The devastation of drugs is part of life and is viewed in the inner city with little principled difference than alcohol and cigarettes have in suburban communities. The answer does not lie in 6-by-8 cells.    

It is my hope to highlight thinking on a local level regarding rehabilitation processes. The rest of the column will justify why. Currently violent felons have access to Rehabs in the Big House (State Prisons for Serious Crimes). This in-house access is not available for misdemeanor crimes that result in stays at the Justice Center or Jamesville. The kid brought up in the “drug culture of inner-city streets” where addiction is everywhere does not have this early “in-house” comprehensive option.

Syracuse Community Treatment Court (Drug Court) is an excellent tool and I am sure  it helps the few ready to succeed. For those emotionally prepared for voluntary recovery, and are able to benefit, it is a priceless program. However too few opt for Drug Court and fewer are able to adhere to the strict disciplines required. A rehab option/mandate —to a confinement/rehabilitation center (which we do not have)— while serving misdemeanor time would be a priceless, compassionate, life reforming and life-saving tool for users, judges and society. It also would provide judges a place to mandate the vast majority too weak for drug court opportunities. It is common for addicts to do several months or more for misdemeanors, several times, and each time return immediately to addiction (especially in the world of heroin). The system accomplishes nothing here except exacting a “punishment without value” from susceptible and misguided young minds that have been overexposed to society’s failures. There is a severe cruelty here that Law should protect Americans against. 

There is “nothing” wrong with the justice system being able to “mandate” rehabilitation for any crime with a drug component or when there is any evidence of a weakened state due to drugs. The essence of this article is to encourage law that would allow a facility to fulfill this mandate. A voluntary component as a determinant is far too ineffective standing alone. Inner city addicts do not have a feel for the wrong or the long range hell that has invaded their life. They have formed in this culture. They need to be shown a value system. They need to be taught these basics to have a chance before they are too far gone. From the age of recognition drugs have been a part of their lives.   

It isn’t folks here and there that suffer from addiction. In large portions of every side of town; every city block is permeated with drugs. It is a deadly humanity-decimating epidemic. Drug crime among youth is the significant part of incarceration in both the Justice Center and Jamesville (and the Big House). Jamesville is a revolving door for the addicted. After losing much of their youth to drugs and incarceration most graduate to state prisons. The system must be able to promptly intervene at low level crime if the desire is to constructively reform the individual to live in society. Realizing that nothing good can start until you make a beginning – why create a full-blown criminal first?

Where supply is divided into thousands of little dealers is where real criminals make their real money. These points (and those paid off to allow this) must be found and not only eliminated but traced back to origins, decimating all structures along this path. Once again with great despair, this little paper gives you the answer. To say “we can’t” or “we tried” is an American failure of the highest order. We can if we try, pure and simple. This reckless permeation that destroys young American minds will begin to end when we decide we have the “will” to match care with action. Leadership itself must be carefully rethought. We have a DEA. Find out why this department is useless. What are we missing? 

The attraction to drugs is great when there is so little opportunity. Unemployment rates among youth in poor communities often reach 50% or more. In many cities and/or communities, they have been left to squander and they know it. What the courts often miss is that the drug culture (and that money can be made) is ingrained during formative years. Why not implement other systems during this critical forming period of life? Target with great expertise these formative years of children. Parents, pre-schools, schools, movies, cartoons and any youth social activity can all be addressed in ways to form correct drug related thinking at the same time children learn of God and Country. Syracuse is the perfect size to implement and test systems. Mayor Walsh: if done well, we can set the standard for others around the country.

What a legacy, to be the Mayor that shows the land the way. All it would take is to champion a Confinement/Rehabilitation Center in our city and a good PR person. If you want a point man let me know.

Heroin addicts wake up each day, immediately feeling a near irresistible need for a fix. 70,000 addict’s overdose and die annually. 47,000 from opiates. The disease causes one to pick at their body. The face, legs and bellies of most addicts are partially shredded with current bloody digs and past scars. And we lock them up in droves. Usually for crimes committed to get a fix. The system makes extraordinarily little effort to rehabilitate and instead demands anti-productive and cruel punishment from these dejected and deeply afflicted human beings. People highly susceptible to becoming more imbedded in the criminal culture that jail culture teaches.    

I will leave you with a reality. Picture a wholesome young man or woman that you know. Picture them 3 years later, scary skinny, in the streets, gaunt features, battered tear jerking looks, phobic hair pulling and twisting, body picked and scarred and often bleeding, sunken dark eyes, dejected, by now with a history of stealing or manipulating in any way for the drug, no school, no work, unable to perceive or properly care about nearness to death, the beauty of life they once knew gone. No direct way to stop them. Feel the hopelessness. Such analogy is seldom appropriate, but in this instance, with this national scale of horror, I think maybe so. I am reminded of a train to Auschwitz loaded with human cargo. With nearly every avenue for survival plugged. Because the good were not trying. Now picture the wakes.      

Jamie Wallace