Mark Caserta: Huntington leadership policies on drug abuse not working

22 Jun

huntington, wv

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me

Mark Caserta is an opinion columnist and editor for Free State Patriot

June 22, 2019


 

“The highest per capita overdose rate and the highest per capita death rate in the country for opiates is right here in the Southern District of West Virginia. To a certain degree, Huntington has become ground zero, the epicenter of the opioid crisis” – Mike Stuart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia is quoted as saying on the AddictionCenter website.

Per Addiction-Treatment.com, the United State spends approximately $276 billion every year to deal with substance abuse – with absolutely nothing to show for it!

Folks, believe me when I tell you there is big money in drug rehabilitation. While I’ve no doubt there are sincere samaritans who have a heart for healing, I believe there are sinister members of society who profit by the enterprise.

It’s a disgusting fact, but one in which we must be cautiously cognizant.

Many experts will confirm that our fair city of Huntington, WV. has become a “hub for drug trafficking”. Sadly, our city leadership and local media have failed miserably in bringing light to this disturbing fact.

Drug traffickers traveling to West Virginia bring large amounts of synthetic opiate drugs for distribution. And why not? We’re a nation of supply and demand, and the demand for drugs in our area is huge.

Dealers and addicts travel from Michigan and surrounding states to market their wares in the prominent heroin “flea market” known as Huntington. Reportedly, major drug trafficking organizations have now taken root in the city, some of whom are gang related, with Detroit and Columbus being the main sources of traffickers of heroin into Huntington per my sources.

And the fruits of their labor are all around us!

Our city is laden with increased property crime, visible prostitution, homicides and regular fatal overdoses, all stemming from an industry which is alarmingly growing in our own back yard.

And what does our city leadership do? As far as I can tell, very little, except enable destructive behavior. Our court house policies of reduced first responders, drug rehab and needle exchange seem to do far more to enable the drug culture than prevent it.

Disagree? Look around you.

Our city is a stone’s throw away from becoming the East Coast distributor for liberal, progressive policies of inclusion and temperance. How long will it be before the homeless overtake sections of our city and our streets are laden with disease and pestilence? How long will it be before the scourge of life without purpose begins to suffocate our very existence?

How long will it be before our city takes its last breath?

Overly dramatic? Perhaps. But try telling that to the helpless citizens of Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York who have fallen prey to the whims of progressive activists who spend more time fighting for the rights of illegals than they do our nation’s citizens. Their tax dollars are stripped away at alarming rates to coddle the increasing numbers of the poor and destitute.

But rise in protest and you’re declared a racist, intolerant homophobe. Such is the progressive ideology.

It’s time we demand our city leaders to take another approach, using a rather unique concept to liberals.

It’s called enforcing the law.

A 2018 column in The Hill, by Kahryn Riley, entitled, “Detroit a model when it comes to solving the opioid epidemic” describes steps drug-ridden cities have taken to curb the opioid epidemic.

Detroit and other cities across the nation are now using specialty dockets as an innovative way to respond to the opioid challenge. These “problem-solving courts”, sometimes known as “drug courts”, were pioneered by a trial judge in Hawaii to combat drug addiction and alcoholism among defendants in his courtroom.

Offenders who are caught up in substance abuse often cycle perpetually through the traditional criminal justice system with minimal results. But drug courts seek to end substance abuse by the people who enter them, using “treatment, intensive supervision and drug testing, frequent status hearings before their judge, and graduated incentives and sanctions.” Judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, defense counsel, probation officers and treatment providers collaborate to help participants build accountability and make healthy choices.

As law enforcement agencies work to get drugs off the street, lawyers and judges are doing their part to ensure justice is served for dealers and users. Prosecutors are bringing homicide charges against drug dealers whose wares result in the deaths of their customers.

They’re simply enforcing the laws on the books. And the model is working!

By treating the underlying problem, these courts reduce the rate at which offenders commit additional crimes while simultaneously shrinking the number who are drug-addicted or alcohol-dependent. The model saves money in the long run — and the lives of defendants.

It’s time we lay aside the fruitless efforts of our city leaders which have proven feckless in the fight against drug abuse. Continuing down the same road and expecting different results is simply insanity.

It’s time our leaders get smart and look at how other cities facing similar issues are being successful, if they truly want to solve the problem.

I call upon city leaders to immediately reach out for counsel in helping Huntington overcome this plight that is devastating our city economy and future. Put your service to the citizens of Huntington ahead of your pride.

Our approach to this problem must change. It isn’t working.

 

 

 

 

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