TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Editorials

April 25, 2013

It’s time to drug test govt. assistance recipients

CORBIN — A couple I know very well faced a personal tragedy this week.

They lost the baby she was carrying.

It was devastating to hear — I can only dare imagine how it must feel.

It would have been the couple’s first child, and this tragic event made them realize just how much children mean to them.

It breaks my heart for them, because I know they would be ideal parents. They are both hard-working, educated people.

And then I enter into courtrooms in the Tri-County, and I get angry.

So many parents are part of the court system, the bulk of whom are facing drug-related charges.

And while we can complain about the strain drugs and drug crimes have on our court system, or complain about drug users, or drug makers, or drug pushers, we often are left wondering — what about the children?

I can’t imagine choosing drugs over your children, but sadly, it happens every single day.

I talked with a man recently who had been arrested during a drug roundup. He was young, maybe his early 20s, and looked pretty physically capable of working.

Instead of busting his can at a job where he can earn his own money, and pay his own bills, and take care of his family, he chose to deal drugs.

Obviously, he wasn’t that inconspicuous about it, since there he sat, awaiting booking.

I was a little stunned.

Here he was, in handcuffs, making small talk with others who were arrested. Eventually the subject came around to why they dealt drugs.

Various reasons came out, most of which I quietly rolled my eyes to.

But the words “well, I’ve got four kids” spoken with a smile made my eyes quit rolling and my jaw drop.

Four little blessings — and their lives apparently have been in the hands of drug dealers.

The arrest was almost treated as a joke, and instantly I felt a great deal of sadness for those poor innocent victims.

What kind of futures are being provided for these children who are learning at an early age about getting arrested and going to jail?

And I only see the edges of these crimes — rarely do I see it head-on.

I couldn’t imagine being a police officer or an EMS worker having to see the littlest, most innocent victims of drug crimes watch as their mothers and fathers get arrested. Or, worse, having to face family and share with them the news that their loved one has overdosed and died using illegal drugs.

I hear so many times how Social Services has to step in and rescue children from the very people who are supposed to be protecting them.

So maybe it’s time to consider some changes. I see that often, these accused and/or convicted drug dealers are receiving some form of government assistance.

I think it’s time to drug test government assistance recipients.

Now, there’s a great many people who would feel their rights would be infringed upon being forced to take a drug test. And yes, for those people not abusing the system, it would be an added headache to get a drug test too.

But imagine the thousands, and ultimately, millions of taxpayer dollars that would be saved with this effort.

Children suffering at the hands of drug users, makers and dealers would be placed much quicker into foster care, minimizing their exposure to illegal activity.

And people who need the system, but who have been denied for various reasons, might be able to utilize some of the benefits available to them no longer abused by drug dealers, users and makers.

But if we continue to enable these drug users, dealers and makers by handing them government assistance, then handing them a public-paid defender to represent them when they get busted for illegal drug activity, this unwritten rotating door policy will continue.

And the total of wasted monies enabling this poor behavior will continue to skyrocket.

And the children will continue to suffer, grow into adults, and create another generation of children who will likely suffer the same fate.

It’s a vicious cycle that needs breaking — it’s time to start smashing.

Reporter John Ross can be reached at jross@thetimestribune.com.

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