TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Editorials

April 17, 2014

Changing a culture of drugs starts at home

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

It’s been a long week.

I’ve ridden along with both the sheriffs of both Knox and Whitley counties this week during their departments’ latest drug roundups.

And again I saw many perfectly decent people who may have made some decisions that brought them down on the wrong side of the law.

Allegedly.

I was sitting down at the same table with one fellow who turned himself in. I wasn’t talking with him, but he was having a conversation with one of the deputies.

If you closed your eyes and imagined a minute, their conversation about muscle cars could have been held with a beer in each of their hands and a good Skynyrd tune cranked in the background.

People may have the impression during these drug roundups that law enforcement converges on a house, beats down the doors and windows, and drags people out kicking and screaming, all the while yelling and hollering at the potential suspects.

Granted, some folks seem pretty upset about being arrested, especially when they see they’re at the receiving end of a camera lens.

I’ve had a few names thrown in my direction that could be deemed insulting.

I’ve had more than a few single-finger salutes aimed in my direction.

I’ve been spit on and cursed, had family of those arrested throw things at me, and once, while working for another paper, watched a woman get arrested for threatening communications.

She threatened a certain type of bodily harm if I took one more picture of her baby. Her “baby” faced charges of cocaine and heroin dealing — four 20-somethings he dealt to took fatal overdoses of pure, uncut cocaine because he thought they were informants.

But when it comes to these arrested persons and their dealings with law enforcement, what I’ve seen here in the Tri-County can give someone a whole new perspective on how the “cop vs. criminal” relationship works in the trenches.

It gives a face to the charges — and it’s not the face of a boogeyman.

It may be your neighbors. It could be your friends. It might even be your family.

The majority of those arrested seem to be pretty nice people who really need to just make a concerted effort to put down the illicit drugs — for themselves.

But what I see as a problem is this — laws have been passed again, and again, and again about drugs.

But it’s pretty apparent the laws don’t work — because once a person enters the merry-go-round of court, they most often end up with light sentences only to return to the people, place and life they knew prior to their arrest and/or conviction. And they get arrested again, only to repeat a ride on the court merry-go-round and return to the same life.

I’ve been told that a sign of insanity is repeating the same task over and over again expecting the same results.

If we just investigate, arrest, charge, arraign, indict, convict and sentence — we’re not looking at the deeper issue.

We’re just running people through a legal maze, in some cases, over and over and over again.

A solution must come from somewhere other than a law book. It seems to me to be a cultural issue — for example, one of the big drug conversations going on across the country is the legalization of marijuana.

Within my lifetime, Congress and all 50 states were passing laws against marijuana and its growth and use — and now our culture seems to have flip-flopped on that issue.

But it seems there’s another culture that exists just under the radar screen of the everyday observer — and that’s those people choking from the gripping addiction of meth and prescription medication.

So what do we do, as a society, to curb this way of living for those addicted and their families so today’s generation doesn’t pass down these addictions to their children?

Federal programs don’t appear to work. Public service announcements largely fail as well. Substitution drugs only switch addictions.

I wish there was an easy answer, but there isn’t. People have to, as a society and as individuals, commit to becoming better as a whole. Change begins at home, and if more homes focus on changing, then maybe society will begin to change for the better as well.

We’re citizens of the U.S.A. — we deserve change for the better.

John Ross is a staff writer for the Times-Tribune. He can be reached at jross@thetimestribune.com.

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