Friday, September 13, 2013

Addiction and Crime - A Way Forward


Addiction and Crime – A Way Forward

Randy Hunt, State Representative
Massachusetts 5th Barnstable District
September 2013

  

Serving on the Joint Committee for Mental Health and Substance Abuse as well as the Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention has given me a view into the problem of substance abuse that few people outside of the treatment arena are afforded. Three truths I have come to realize are 1) substance abuse is wider spread than most people believe, both geographically and socioeconomically; 2) treatment works; and 3) relatively few people seek out treatment.

Over the past ten years, legislators, governors and state administrators across the country have begun to see the folly of incarceration as a solution to the problem of substance abuse. It is the most expensive and least effective way to address the issue, a veritable turnstile for repeat offenders who do not get the treatment they need. Nonviolent criminals with a substance addiction are crowding our prisons—about one-quarter of all inmates in the U.S.—and costing enormous sums of our states’ limited resources, resulting in other areas of state governments, such as education spending and transportation infrastructure investments, getting short-changed.

Addiction and Crime, A Way Forward is a policy initiative to reduce substance abuse in Massachusetts by focusing on the population of nonviolent criminals with a substance addiction who interface with the criminal justice system. It is, by no means, an omnibus solution for all addicts, the majority of whom never encounter the police, courts and detention; but it is a way to deal with thousands of people who are responsible for the majority of our property crimes, domestic abuse situations, and serious vehicular crashes—all of this with the promise of saving taxpayer dollars.


Why Addicts Commit Crimes

Is Free Will No Longer Free?
Much has been said in recent years about addiction being somewhere between an uncontrollable behavior and a conscious choice. Some characterize it as a mental disease that should be de-stigmatized and dealt with as we do physiological diseases; that is, treatment by professionals in appropriate settings for the appropriate amount of time with the backing of health insurance or public assistance. Others believe in a personal responsibility model that is essentially “you broke it, you fix it” (http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=90688&page=1&singlePage=true).

A debate has emerged about whether an addict loses free will, particularly an abuser of opiate drugs which present very powerful physical withdrawal effects. Why would a previously productive person start down the road of committing petty crimes, wrecking relationships, and defying common sense? Would a person with free will choose to ruin their lives and the lives of people around them?

Some argue that it is not free will that is lost, but rather that an addict’s belief in free will turns to disbelief (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2757759/). That may seem a bit nuanced, but someone who declares “I can’t help it” probably finds it expedient to disavow his free will, thus avoiding self-incrimination.

Irrespective of the academic debate about addiction’s connection to loss of free will, it is a fact that, by force or by choice, addicts engage in destructive behaviors and often are unable to pull themselves out of their downward spiral. Along the way, many addicts commit crimes, from illegal drug possession to property theft, from embezzlement to robbery.

Sometimes, the first significant manifestation of a loved one’s drug habit is an arrest. Perhaps changes in the addict’s behaviors and routines went unnoticed or were chalked up to the stresses of school or a job or a relationship. Often the crimes committed are of a nonviolent nature but come with stiff penalties. In fact, about a quarter of all inmates in the United States are nonviolent criminals with a substance addiction (http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/269208/prison-math-and-war-drugs-veronique-de-rugy).

At the point where interdiction and treatment are most called for, our justice system parks nonviolent criminals with a substance addiction in prison, where recovery is rare.


Treatment versus Incarceration
 
Treatment Does Work
Doug Sellman, Professor of Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine at the National Addiction Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand, describes the ten most important things known about addiction (http://www.scribd.com/doc/45303234/The-10-Most-Important-Things-Known-About-Addiction-Sellman-Addiction-2010-See-response-by-Sobels-Missing-the-Continuum):

(1) Addiction is fundamentally about compulsive behavior;

(2) Compulsive drug seeking is initiated outside of consciousness;

(3) Addiction is about 50% heritable and complexity abounds;

(4) Most people with addictions who present for help have other psychiatric problems as well;

(5) Addiction is a chronic relapsing disorder in the majority of people who present for help;

(6) Different psychotherapies appear to produce similar treatment outcomes;

(7) “Come back when you’re motivated” is no longer an acceptable therapeutic response;

(8) The more individualized and broad-based the treatment a person with addiction receives, the better the outcome;

(9) Epiphanies are hard to manufacture; and

(10) Change takes time.

The referenced article provides a summary on each of the ten points and encapsulates some of the difficulties and frustrations related to addiction treatment, but however difficult and frustrating treatment options can be, there is one consistent finding across many studies of treatment versus incarceration: Treatment costs a fifth or less compared with the costs of incarceration (http://www.justicepolicy.org/uploads/justicepolicy/documents/04-01_rep_mdtreatmentorincarceration_ac-dp.pdf).

With such a “bang for the buck,” why wouldn’t legislators, administrators and adjudicators call for more treatment and less prison time for nonviolent criminals with a substance addiction? Even with relapses and recidivism being factors in treatment cost, an addict could go through treatment five times before equaling the cost of one incarceration. The fact is that drug offenders who complete treatment programs recover and stay sober at much higher rates than those who receive no treatment while incarcerated.


Drug Diversion Programs
Non-Violent Offenders Get A Second Chance
The good news is that states have started to embrace the concept of treatment as an alternative to incarceration, including Massachusetts. One of the staunchest advocates of treatment for nonviolent criminals with a substance addiction is Judge Mary Hogan Sullivan, the Dedham District Court’s presiding justice and director of specialty courts in the District Court Department (http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2013/03/23/newton-district-court-launches-drug-court-program-newton-court-adds-drug-treatment-session/LU9zGdBpysehw2ZVGLujDN/singlepage.html).

The system she has created is essentially probation with required addiction treatment and drug testing. Drug court, as it is commonly called, is an option for a convicted drug offender with the alternative being incarceration. In a 2003 study by the Center for Court Innovation, the recidivism rate among 2,135 participants in drug courts in six states was 29% lower over a three-year period compared with drug offenders who did not participate in the programs (http://www.samhsa.gov/samhsa_news/volumexiv_2/index.htm). Unfortunately, only twenty drug courts exist in Massachusetts and they depend greatly on the talent of their probation officers who, in many cases, learned their craft through on-the-job training.

Mission Direct Vet, a program specific to Massachusetts veterans with criminal charges combined with mental health disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), recently completed its five-year grant period, producing a model for dealing with this growing population. Paired with veterans who have had similar experiences, the results in terms of reduced recidivism were excellent. Moreover, given the statistical probability that the participant group would normally suffer several suicides, the fact that none were committed is particularly noteworthy (http://www.ndci.org/conferences/2011/agenda/F-21.pdf).

Critics argue that more should be done to offer treatment before an addict becomes a convicted criminal. It is not a matter of “either/or” but rather an issue of funding, which is hard to come by in either scenario, and creating points of interdiction that occur before an addict becomes a convict. Gosnold on Cape Cod, for example, is working to develop an interdiction program in primary physicians’ offices by training people to identify symptoms of addiction in patients who are there for other reasons. School-based drug education programs are a requirement of the omnibus opiate drug addiction bill that was passed in July last year but are yet to be incorporated in the statewide curriculum.


The Texas Experiment
Mandatory Treatment Saves Billions
In 2005, Texas began reforming drug sentencing and shifting money to drug rehabilitation and prevention programs, which has saved the state billions of dollars [in avoided costs] and reduced crime. Such reforms have earned the praise of unlikely bedfellows: NAACP President Ben Jealous and conservative activist Grover Norquist. The NAACP argues that sending people to jail for nonviolent drug offenses turns young people into hardened criminals and disproportionately affects black people, while Norquist argues that states waste taxpayer money locking up people who could be rehabilitated more cost-effectively (http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/texas-close-prison-first-time-state-history-175703769.html).

In August of 2011, the Texas governor announced that the state would, for the first time in its history, close down a prison due to a reduced prison population and the lowest crime rate since 1968. Two other prison closures have been authorized by the state legislature.

What Texas did to accomplish this seemingly herculean feat was to invest heavily in drug courts, electronic monitoring, and improved parole and probation monitoring of nonviolent criminals with a substance addiction. Texas is also not hamstrung by mandatory minimum sentencing, something once popular with both conservatives from the “lock ‘em up and through away the key” school of thought and liberals, whose unions saw job security in long sentences and overcrowded prisons (http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/355661/conservatives-welcome-eric-holder-criminal-justice-reform-bandwagon-vikrant-p-reddy).

The idea of offering, or forcing, treatment programs pays off in a number socially beneficial ways as well. Addicts who receive treatment find themselves able to hold a job, repair relationships, and return to productive society; all huge upsides compared with years of incarceration. Additionally, opportunities to “give back” abound in recovery programs that rely on peer counselors as an element of their treatment protocol.


Other States Climbing Aboard
Discovering That Treatment Is Effective and Cheaper

Since 2010, a number of conservative legislatures have passed major criminal justice reform packages. Ohio, Georgia, Pennsylvania and South Dakota joined Texas by moving from “tough on crime” to “a focus on recovery” when it comes to nonviolent criminals with a substance addiction. Overall, 28 states have embarked on major reforms during the past five years, with 19 of those states being led by Republican governors or GOP legislatures and nine by Democratic governors or legislatures.

There are still holdouts in some legislatures, primarily Republicans who believe that they’ll be cast as “soft on crime,” a stigma they believe could threaten their political futures. Legislative efforts in Florida and Indiana fell victim to arguments that public safety would be compromised if nonviolent criminals with a substance addiction weren’t locked up (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323836504578551902602217018.html).

Paradigm Shift for Massachusetts
Time to Expand Successful Programs

The message is clear that incarcerating our way out of the drug and alcohol addiction crisis has not worked. The “War on Drugs” has also proven that, in spite of all efforts to stop illegal drug flow into this country, the fundamental economic model of supply versus demand overwhelms all attempts to stamp out supply. If there is demand, someone will supply it. Is there any shortage of heroin on the streets of Boston or Hyannis?

Massachusetts needs to get serious about fully implementing criminal justice reforms relative to nonviolent criminals with a substance addiction and investing heavily in expanding our successful drug diversion programs. No one can sincerely argue that it’s not a good idea to repair lives, put families back together, get people back to work, reduce crimes that go hand-in-hand with substance abuse, and save taxpayer dollars at the same time.

There are three key items that need to be addressed in order to construct a reform bill. I will file legislation to authorize three commissions to both independently and collaboratively study and provide methods and costs for implementing the key objectives:

1)      Judiciary Commission: This commission would be comprised of members from all three branches of state government and nongovernmental advocacy groups to create eligibility criteria for mandated treatment/monitoring and propose necessary changes in existing laws to accommodate for this reform.  – The Texas law requires judges to put nonviolent criminals with a substance addiction with no previous felony convictions into a treatment program. For those with a prior felony conviction, the judge has latitude in choosing between a treatment program and incarceration. A similar construct should work in Massachusetts along with adjustment to or elimination of some mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines that extend to otherwise eligible nonviolent criminals with a substance addiction.

2)      Treatment Commission: This commission would be comprised of members from all three branches of state government and nongovernmental advocacy groups to develop plans to expand Massachusetts’ drug diversion programs to include every district court in the commonwealth. Additionally, this commission would specify the necessary resources and related costs for both internal and outsourced assistance required to accomplish this expansion. – There are 62 district courts, of which only 20 have a drug court. Clearly the cost of adding 42 more drug courts needs to be determined, but as important, the commission must create a plan for how Massachusetts would apply best practices with the goal of having consistently high quality of personnel and services across all of the drug courts. This expansion would also contemplate the subdivisions of drug courts, such as veterans’ and juveniles’ drug courts. Finally, the commission should consider a hybrid approach of incarcerated treatment for addicts who require the additional discipline of a 24/7 treatment facility.

3)      Corrections Commission: This commission would be comprised of members from all three branches of state government, unions, and nongovernmental advocacy groups to project the effects of a reduced prison/jail population on the operations and capital needs of the corrections system. – A few years into the implementation of the nonviolent drug offender changes in Texas, its legislature authorized the closing of three state prisons. The first actual closure was announced in 2011. These reforms also allowed the state to scrap plans to build two additional facilities. Similar results should be expected and planned for in Massachusetts. As prison/jail population declines, a plan needs to be in place to adjust operating and capital requirements to maximize cost savings. To this end, it is critical that consideration be made to retraining people to fill roles in the expanded drug court system and to repurpose space in our prison system to serve as treatment centers.

We must cast aside the old paradigm, be up to the pushback of status quo special interests, and tackle this issue head on. Working with my fellow legislators, I am confident that we will advance legislation to accomplish these goals and make Massachusetts a better place to live.

36 comments:

  1. I greatly appreciate your efforts in this area. For drug users, prison is generally a long "time out" at extreme cost to the taxpayers before they return to their old habits upon release.

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  2. It's obvious that you have put a lot of thought into this Randy; I believe you are spot on with your analysis and look forward to helping you in making these changes happen.

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  3. Randy it goes with out saying that something needs to be done to combat the ever increasing problem being fought here in Sandwich and surrounding areas, with those on drugs. When one does the research in the crime levals here and elswhere that ties the numbers to drug addiction it make you wonder. I would include hard and soft alcohol use in that number.

    As long as we have parents addicted to alcohol that take there children along with them to purchase the alcohol they use at the local package stores, like many do here in Sandwich, it sends the wrong message. The message being it is all ok to drink and drive, go to school or what ever else the parents decide to do as an example of this problem we all must face a society. The taking of drugs follow the same pathway towards destruction once they get hooked on one, it is nothing to be hooked on another substance that needs a great deal of cash to maintain. Now we have more breakins,robberies, physical holdups of local business and an assortment of folks that may in some cases actually get arrested and charged for there crime. Crimes, that in my opinion, they are well aware of before engaging in that endeavor.

    If the parents lead by example and set good examples that is one thing, however when the parents are a contributing factor in the whole process, fixing the child does not fix the problem in there life. That is where society must find the way to not only help the children, but the parent as well.Then perhaps the battle associated with drugs and alcohol can be won.

    Any program that is designed to assist in the recovery of an addicted person needs to be well vented with all of those in law enforcment to better understand that we as community, may well pay a price no matter which way it is decided to assist in that goal.

    The question for me is which method can actually save an addicted person from a life of crime and further addiction and can we rely upon it to promote a clean ,healthy society that makes these folks a contributing member of our society and not otherwise.

    Jail unfortunitly will be part of this process, no matter how hard we may try to remove it from the process itself, That is what I see from your above proposal. Solving the addiction problems cannot be resolved in Jail, that I can agree on, but beginning the process in jail with those that are hard core offendors, may never go away here in Masschusetts as this is a political storm among the penal system we live in . It would be nice how ever if the above proposal was to be accepted from the perspective of bringing back some human dignity to an addicted person , rather then saving money to close jails.

    While incarcerated, these folk must be given a positive solution and way to combat the sickness they have aquired and it must be well managed to provide those afflicted, a positive solution to be able to combat the demons in there lives.

    I await your responce and understand your sincere concern in this matter and will thank you once again for taking on subject matters that concern us all

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    1. I can not understand what you said, but will comment on your penultimate paragraph. While incarcerated, you say, these folks must be given a positive solution and way to combat the sickness. I can't say I disagree with your statement, but unfortunately prisons are places where prisoners must protect their lives and health (rape) as a daily job. I don't believe that your solution would work unless we first do something about the prison system itself. I suggest that you might read John Grisham's "The Racketeer". The first 1/3 of the book deals with a minimum security federal camp prison. Even there, inmates must watch themselves.

      As for Randy, he should be commended for all he does with drug addiction and policy. He is actively engaged with the politicians and community.

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    2. Mr. Johanson,
      I don't know where you grew up or raised your children, but I feel like you have the impression that parents are less responsible than they were in your day. I could not disagree more. Just like now, there have always been parents who do not set a good example with regard to alcohol and drugs. The vast majority of parents today set a good example for their children and work hard to raise them to be responsible, law-abiding and productive citizens. Alcohol and drug abuse have been problems for a long time. Please refrain from pinning blame on this generation of parents and focus on solutions.

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    3. Very nicely put.

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  4. Nitzar, you fail to understand what I posted? yet you agree with what I posted.?

    First of I do understand very well the prison life that those who go there, are in some cases in survival mode for most of there time there. I would offer a counter offer that you read the accounts of Howie Carr and the life of being criminals. Those accounts[books] offer actual details in the life some have chosen while being influenced by drugs.

    An inmate has the choice to engage in a healing process or not , but only if one is offered by the very institution that they serve there time in. Aside from threats of rape and being killed, one with convition can overcome these threats amd still make a difference in society and themselves. It is up to those who watch over these types of inmates to assure that society can heal itself, if given a chance to do so. Drug programs within the prison system are begining to make head way towards providing the tools that will allow a drug offender to be given a new life, but as in all programs inside the walls of prison you will always have risks as to the outcomes and that is why we need cooperation from many in the system to make it work and that includes the very person every one is hoping to have the courage to change its life.

    It is call having the courage of your conviction.

    For those addicted to drugs that get time out in jail cells , and if some program is instituted prior to them being released is offered and they take it. I see that as being a positive process in combating the scurge of drugs they may be under.

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    1. Mr.Johanson,

      It seems to me that one of the points of the subject matter at hand is that its costing too much money. Part but not all of the problem I believe is that non-violent addicts are housed in prisons. I would think that putting money into some other type of program, perhaps giving them the same education to which you espouse in your comment on the outside would save an awful lot of money and at the same time better educate those need.

      As an aside, I don't smoke or drink, to not cheat or gamble. I even buckle up when I drive. My son and my daughter both do not. I never brought them to a liquor store and one of them is currently in rehab. I am trying to get him into a program in another state, but unfortunately my insurance is giving me a problem. I drive by two liquor stores at work and when I shop. I hardly ever see children. Maybe you are frequenting the wrong places or towns. I would hope some liquor store owner would give a more educated answer.

      Do your homework.

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  5. Excuse me should you have thought that I was being critical of anything you said. I simply meant to say that I, being me, did not understand it. It may have been spot on, but I, me, did not understand it. It may have been through my ignorance or lack of mental abilities, but none the less, I did not understand it. Perhaps I may have been looking for your point to be summarized for me in one or two sentences. I never agree with anything that you wrote. On one item, in the penultimate paragraph, I did say "I could not disagree", but still, I, me, did miss your point. Call me dumb, but I, me, just did not understand.
    I have read Howie Carr, holding my nose. It depicts life much like many other books, including the Racketeer. I used that book because it took place in part at a low security Federal Camp. The point that I wanted to make is that I am not sure those people have the time to go into one of the programs you would like them to have in while incarcerated.

    Maybe the reason I did not understand was like in your last paragraph, you state, "for those addicted to drugs that get time out in jail cells, and if some of the program is instituted prior to thew being released is offered and they take it". I think there is a verb missing which renders the sentence to not be understood correctly by myself, me.

    This is a subject near and dear to me and so I would suggest that many of the people in these prisons, although felons, are harmless. Those that are harmless, and I personally have met many of them, a program, well funded in lieu of prison, such as a halfway house which includes a school, would serve them and the Commonwealth more than having them stay in prison, which is a culture for the violent and harmful people.

    I do appreciate your attempt at correcting me MR. Joahnson.

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  6. Nitzar you make some valid points , Granted in the prison population you have perhaps several types of folks whom have found that flaunting the laws gets them a time out behind closed doors. In many cases as you indicated some wind up there because of other reasons other then being high on some type of a drug problem addiction.
    Is it unfortuned that in our system of justice every one gets thrown into the same type of prison system, where recovery or rehab is a secondary to the term they serve. YES

    Where is the line in the sand drawn as to who may deserve a realistic chance of recovery? Those impacted by a drug addiction, need to show that they are willing to start upon a process that will increase the chances of that goal and for me it is a place that offers that assistance. If it begins in the prison setting, then so be it, that can be a positive step for whom ever takes advantage if they so choose to do so. If it occurs at a half way house, that depends upon the judicial system to provide another alternative to solving the on going scurge of drugs upon the youth of our nation.
    That also can be a pathfinder towards reducing the open door policy that most drug abusers find them selves in.


    The recent process offered by the sheriffs department , which MR Perry brought before the community of Sandwich, offers a solution to both situations and was well vented among those in the penal system as a program that has a great deal of merit and I can support, as being well though out, offers the clients hope for the future and saves money.

    The ultimate goal is to offer those afflicted a away out, that helps to bring them in a better place in there lives.

    It is still encumbant upon the drug USER to have the courage of there conviction in that process, in my opinion.

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  7. Jason first off sorry to hear that a family members is in recovery. Drug addiction is like any other sickeness and it is unfortent that the majority of insurance policies do not provide for this type of help.

    As far as Home work goes if one fails to see what is an obvious trend with in our fair town in regards to parents taking young children into places that sell both soft and hard liqure, then so be it.

    I also do not smoke or drink as you stated above and have never used drugs, other then what was ordered by my doctors.

    All one needs to do is sit out front of places here in Sandwich and , yes other towns as well and observe the mothers and fathers purchasing alcohol with a young child in hand. In some cases they sit drinking what ever they bought, before leaving. In my opinion,these adults are setting a bad example to those children as I stated above and with out doubt are a contributing factor to that family member being influenced some where down the road.

    Any type of drug addiction has serious implications to the total well being of our society and the earlier one can instill the harm of them in our children, the less children will be affected. Educating, our children against the forces of all drug use, is paramount in keeping our jails free for the real criminals in our society.

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  8. So be it? It is not an obvious trend that parents are taking children into package stores. While it does happen, I don't see an upward trend, and, as I said, I am passing by and parking near package stores every day. I also go in to buy bottles of wine, though I do not drink, to bring to dinner etc.

    Its not a big point, but certainly it seems to put a stigma on those who are parents in my opinion.

    If I were to make a guess, as you did, I would say the trend is that people more and more need to work in order to cover the basics, let alone save for college and retirement. People, even young people are more and more giving up. Some do not feel that they will ever be able to own a home, work for more than $20 per hour. They find themselves a mate, bed down, collect unemployment and or work under the table. They get EBT cards and food stamps, free healthcare (while ours goes up exponentially. There mates do the same. Then they have kids and prey upon the system even more. They put in for free breakfasts and lunches, free full day kindergarten, free busing and sports, and on and on. Then they turn to drink for fun and move onto drugs.

    Now you may disagree, but my take, without doing homework puts the blame on those who take the drugs not their parents.

    I would also question why you would not point out that the school system is part of the problem. Look at all the pervs that have been arrested lately and in the past. What kind of example do they show. Our school committee is more interested in raising money than educating our children. For shame to the whole system. Maybe I should take Molly.

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    1. "Our school committee is more interested in raising money than educating our children."
      Really? Explain please. With specifics.

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    2. Center for the Arts, Push to bring in outside students, admin spending money on ipads without discussion, taking over all the community school big money makers only and not giving a crap about adult education going to hell, fees, just to name a few.

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    3. My goodness, such a lot of misconceptions to be under at the same time! OK, let's take the Center for the Arts. Would you prefer the school district let the HS auditorium fall into decrepitude through lack of maintenance, like so much else in town? How is it a *bad* thing to look for a way to get funding to maintain that wonderful facility for our students and our town? How is that "not being interested in educating our children"?

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  9. To 8;31 it is the choice of who ever decides to do any type of drug, when ever they are old enough to better understand the reality of addiction in what ever form it may take.
    They can choose the straight and narrow path or the one that is crooked.

    That being said. the choices can be better served if the parents provide the proper guide and information that will help the youngster better decide the path they want to walk/

    To correct your last statement in regards to the schools , I have posted here and elswhere that we do have many drug problems with in our society and the school system was included as well. No matter what some will use blinders for in regards to drugs in the Sandwich School district, it is a contributing factor why some parents choose to send there children elswhere to be educated. It is an issue that some here do not want to address and so it continues to a point where both teachers in some cases and students are in classes under the influence of some type of drug.


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    1. Did I read your last sentence correctly. You know that both teachers and students are under the influence in class? I would hope that some teacher, union official, or administrator would respond to this uninformed comment.

      Its time for others to just put an end to your ridiculous verbiage. Why would someone make such inflammatory statements without some sort of evidence. As a parent, I need to know what evidence you might have. After all, my children are in classrooms. If you don't present the evidence so that the SC and Police can act is reprehensible. It is also hypocritical in that you would chastise parents who bring kids to liquor stores, but would say nothing about teachers high in classrooms. This is a grave disservice to the children, taxpayers, and teachers who work hard every day.

      Frankly, I am tired of your constant unsubstantiated pontifications. What you accused to happen in classrooms is of serious and grave consequence. It is my sincere hope that if you have proof, and I am positive you don't, that Chief Wack would start an investigation.

      I am sure your cowardly actions will not be properly responded to with substantiation and facts. If you have them, show them, if you don't apologize.

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  10. To anonymous 815. who is the coward here? I doubt you are even a parent , because if you were you would be aware of this long time problem that has been openly made it in print on more then several occasions over the years. Teachers were removed from classes, due to being under the influence of what ever, students as well. if any one should start an investigation. if you do have children in school, it is you. By the way that is a great lead in to your previous post on September 22 on 831

    The factual date speaks for itself in cases such as these and all one needs to do is be more aware of is occurring here and elswhwere with in the confines of the school buildings and bus rides to and from school.

    Some times speaking truthfully in matters such as these provokes comments from those who have not taken of the blinders to actually see what is around them , that they have failed to recogonise or can not accept the reality of what ever it is that bothers them.

    You should ask the police and school department for an apology for making the announcements to the press, see how that works out for you.

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  11. Typical you. No proof or documentation just a lot of fluff. Give me a name, give me documentation. I am not speaking of the children. They are know across the nation to be under the influence in certain situations, but teachers here in Sandwich, I don't know. I just think you ought to go before newspapers and cameras as you do for trivial matters. People should know. Give us the proof, if it exists. Easy to accuse, but hard to come up with proof.

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    1. I know of only one specific example and I don't think it's right to call her out here by name. Like many parents I wanted her the he!! out of our kids school but we also all hope she's getting the help she needs now. It was ridiculous how long it took to get rid of her knowing of her drunkenness during the school day - and it was well known believe me. We used to joke that the drinking wouldn't even have been such a problem if the teaching hadn't been so poor. Thank you teachers union - no telling how bad they were willing to let it get! The good news is her replacement is awesome and doing a great job. Feel bad for the kids who were stuck with her though.

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    2. Thank you, now that we have this on the table and know that we got rid of her, that is a good thing. I just think that having just to say teachers are in the classroom under the influence is not enough. Now that you are more specific, we have something to work with.

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    3. I think it's important to acknowledge that such situations are 1) rare, but 2) not unheard of. Teachers are flawed human beings same as the rest of us, and when they fall, they fall publicly. I hope the person in question is recovering well. It's regrettable how far it got.

      And now, where do we go with this unfortunate truth?

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  12. Once again 919 you present an argument of nonsense and contrivance. What ever motivates your logic, appears to have been lost in a bottle some where.
    All of your questions can be answered, if you open the daily papers, read the police reports, that is if you take off the blinders before doing so. This whole issue of drug abuse in our society is not about single persons, but rather a more complex lack of our society excepting the truth as to what harm they do, in fact, perpertrate upon those that take them. Every segment in our society, rich , poor , educated, uneducated become victims of this scurge and sickness.
    It is those who rather blame others for telling the truth in such matters , rather then looking inward towards there own lack of understanding and knowledge of what drug addiction.causes every community no matter who it may effect..
    Any matter worth discussing will never be a trival matter, especially if it enlightens and brings about a truthful solution to what ever the matter may be. Understanding in some cases those with a guilty complex find such matters as trival, and do not want the truth of such matters to be exposed and begin to spout show me the proof, give me a name/ Perhaps one may look in the mirror and see the reflection to your questions, Is this you? I hope not.

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    1. One thing about the triviality you write, is that you don't understand that "show me" as you call it, exists in our society. Can you imagine the School Committee telling us that there was an under the influence teacher in the system and not having any back up. You, I hope, and I, as I know I do understand that there are a lot of comments made that are not truthful For sure, you have called mine as such, and, that is why it is necessary to back up statements, not necessarily with names, but rather, with the truth as to what happened. The answer from the person who asked for facts was given by some other anonymous person as you could have done.

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  13. Is this really happening? What are the powers to be doing about it?

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  14. The powers to be have been working on solutions here in Sandwich for some time now. We have a drug task force in place to make the parents of children aware, The number of citizens involved can be looked up on the web site. We have another task force working with some in jail to intervene prior to them being released. Randy is working on another program, which he out lined above. Things are moving in the right direction and until the parents take charge of there own children, along with society being more open with the problem of drugs at all levels and enforce the values of not being addicted, progress will remain slow/

    Perhaps Mr. Hunt could find the time to further elaborate on your question as it would provide perhaps a different view point?.

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  15. To September 26 917 no one indicated any such thing and further more your comments are just another way of deflecting the conversation at hand.

    By the way I grew up in Roxbury , with an alcoholic abusive Father, along side the Winter Hill Boys in a place far worst then Hells Kitchen in New York.

    Except for some basic love from my Mother, I learned the hard way about values
    and helped to raise my two brothers and three sisters away from crime, drugs and alcohol. We did the same with our three sons. Each generation has its challenges and todays parents are no different, as long as they take of the bliders and stop deflecting the obvious problems that drugs and alcohol have on the lives of every one, including adults.

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  16. Todays editorial in the Cape Cod Times speaks to a positive solution on how your approach has a great deal of merit in how to handle the on going drug problems and what we need to do as a community in reducing the drug cycle among our young offenders.Understanding that it will take a great deal of changing some long time thinking as what to do with those that take drugs and how to punish them.

    The sickness of drugs takes many avenues and like any thing that has been in place for generations it may just take that long to forfill your proposal listed above in your point of view that may well serve the drug abuser in a better way for all of society.

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    1. Carl, Texas passed their laws in 2003, implemented them in 2005, and shut down their first state prison in 2011, at a time when property crimes had dropped to a 35-year low. That is far less than a generation. I hope we see the same results here in MA. You and I will be around to see it happen.

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  17. Mr. Hunt this is not Texas, where the climate of change takes a shorter time and effort before it happens. The Commonwealth Of Massachusetts has long engrained political philosphies when it comes to protecting entrenched union employees. Just look at the recent debacle around the toll takers on the Mass Pike. Or better yet, the transit authority and how well they are paid and the benifit package, they recieve.

    Plenty of good people over the years made some real good proposals among the political field of jobs and in most cases they had there heads handed to them.

    Some will not see this as a benifit for the drug users, but rather a loss of jobs that pay some sreious money to those holding them. How do you offset that argument?
    You are correct in that it may well save the state some money, but at whos expence.
    will it come to be?

    You will need a strong coalition of similar minded, politically connected,legislative folks that are willing to cross party lines before your message gets across that this change can have a great impact on our overall community here in Massachusetts and that sacrifices will need to be made that some will not like.

    After all we are still waiting for the rest of the Bulger story to be exposed and how long do you think that has been going on? I know that it may be comparing apples to oranges , but non the less if the system was not so corrupted all the way up the ladder in some cases, resolutions would have been made years ago that in fact protected the average payer of taxes and those drug users who found the system not acceptable to reform and bringing dignity back into there lives.

    I hope you are correct that we both may see some change in the next generation that address the method upon which we treat all those under some addiction in a more humane way.
    It has been stated that the population of our country went from the East Coast to the West coast , but that new ideas came from the West Coast to the East Coast
    I suspect in this case it is absolutly correct and you are a man ahead of your time.

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  18. Randy, I suspect that the Cape Cod Times was reading your blog or material that might have come out from the committee on which you seat. To my recollection, we have not had a strong logical voice moving such a proposal. I think it has merit. As for the jobs, if it takes 8 years to close a prison, I am sure many of the jobs can be handled through attrition. That's what the Feds do and seldom ever lose jobs. If not, it is always good to fight the fight than cower and go home.

    Good Luck, you will have my support.

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  19. This whole item started when Carl suggested that teachers in the classroom were under the influence. Although he was somewhat correct, in that perhaps that was once correct. He clearly should have indicated that there was an occasion where such a thing happened and that the person was taken out. That would have allayed the fears of anonymous upset that his reading of under the influence might have been something only Carl new.

    I don't think Carl was totally wrong, however, he could have answered anonymous' concern for an answer strait on instead of around the bush.

    What troubles me as that some people in government tell him everything. If he was told about the removal of the teacher, then maybe the whole town should have known.

    Of course, I am making the assumption that there was a teacher taken out of class and that is what Carl was talking about.

    What is clear is that if Carl knew of person or persons who were under the influence and still teaching and nothing was done, he should report it. I don't think that was or is the case.

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  20. I like the Mouse comments and to clarify one point if I may. Since I have lived here in Sandwich, on more then one occasion was I made aware in regards to both Students and Teachers being removed from the Schools. I have used the word removed as well, when posting about htis subject matter. Names were never discussed and I did not need to know any how. Naming someone here even If i did know the name, would have not solved the drug problem , especially if any one person whos name would be announced , may not have a chance to defend what ever may have been the case.

    Does this occur in other school districts , absolutly . If some one who has children in the system is looking at the booking logs , names and dates are there for your knowledge to be aware that in deed it is a problem no matter where one goes. This however does not prevent me from announcing we are no different here in Sandwich as many would have you believe. Those on addiction are very careful to hide in the cracks, until they are observed and hopefully something is done.
    I had several young student once tell me that his family would not ride the bus because some of the older children were attempting to get them hooked on drugs. When I heard about it from others using the same bus, I did speak to the Super and Chair person from the school committee. No Names were ever mentioned, just the problem, which was corrected by intervention from the police and school. It is the problem of addiction and not those afflicted whom I speak off . Could I find out the names if I so desired, Yes, but the problem goes far deeper then one or two names that may be sick from addiction and therein lies this problem that society must open there eyes to correct. Solve the drug problem , save a child or adult from a life of addiction and that is where my focas remains.

    How would you like me to say Mr, Mouse was removed from classes today as being under the influence of drugs, when you do not know the whole story? Does that solve the drug issue for the whole system . Just maybe he or she was actually reacting to some other situation?

    For me any one pushing to get name verfication to justify what is being posted is only attempting to deflect the true issue we all here are discussing and that is, how do we as a society fight drugs and what type of intervention will work the best for what ever the crime committed warrants? It is just like the poster who decided that this matter is a trival problem , another one who has decided to deflect the issue before our town in an attempt to hide some personal grudge and posts behind the wall of anonomous.

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  21. Johanson, I was just trying to defend you and what you had written and what was written back by anonymous (not to be confused with Anony Mouse). I think you bothe misunderstood each other which is not necessarily a bad thing just an misunderstanding. Anonymous in my opinion thought you knew of teachers being under the influence and just wanted to know what proof you may have had. I don't think she meant for you to give names. I think she wanted this information or proof if you will to go to the proper authorities.

    You do have a few critics, but personally I feel you add a lot to the banter of this blog. Keep it up and don't be defensive as you don't have to be, especially when you are right or misunderstood.

    Thank you for your efforts towards the issue of the Town.



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  22. Anony Mouse I did realize that you were defending me and that is why I attempted to respond to you and forgot to thank you for what you posted. No matter if some one is right or wrong at times being misunderstood goes with the territory of posting in any forum such as this. I have learned to go beyond the reason why some post under just anony and have found corrolations between some of those folks and how they are in real life. One reason I post here under my real name and in another by another name it remains the same all the time when responding to a subject matter. I also post under another well known name in an international web site, where all who post know my real name, which I do not attempt to hide, That web site has only registered posters, so every one chooses what ever they want , but unlike here one can hide behind Anony, but fail to realize that in some cases that some may determine who these folks are and in some cases I repond differently when I feel that the person posting has what in my world is called a hidden adgenda. I know in your case that is not so and I thank you for your post.

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  23. No thanks needed. Now we can get back to the blog issue.

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