RU Texas The Beat

Gregg County Perfectly Represents Texas’ Diverse Addiction Problem

[fa icon="calendar'] Jan 17, 2017 1:41:26 PM / by RU Texas posted in Recovery, Addiction, Rehab, Gregg County, Drug Crimes

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Gregg County Sherriff Maxey recently spoke before members of the Longview Griggton Rotary Club about the multi-pronged addiction threat facing Gregg County and the rest of the lone star state. The talk provided illuminating insight into the pervasive and devastating public health issue that addiction represents in Texas, as well as its impact on communities across the state. Cerliano highlighted the most urgent drug threats in the area and the conditions that lead to and sustain abuse on an individual and community level. Gregg County has experienced a steady methamphetamine problem for years, mostly because it is easy to make and it’s cheaper than heroin and cocaine, which are also readily available in the area.

The sherriff also spoke extensively of the impact that addiction was having on the county’s jail. In 2016, there were a total of 9,171 bookings at the Gregg County Jail, 2,924 of which were for possession charges. This doesn’t include arrests for drug-motivated crimes, which experts speculate can push the percentage of drug-related bookings up to 80 percent. Opiates like hydrocodone and oxycodone represented about 60 percent of prescription-related arrests last year, which tallied nearly 930. One of the primary aims of Cerliano’s talk was to mobilize and empower the Gregg County community to take action against addiction whenever possible.

Although Gregg County lies about five hours northeast of Austin, it’s hard not to look at the area’s drug problem as a microcosm of the entire state of Texas. It’s also important to remember the swift and immediate nature of drug trafficking and that what happens in a town like Tyler can, and often does, easily happen in Austin or San Antonio. In a time when drug threats are only getting more diverse and sophisticated, and Texas remains ever vulnerable to international trafficking, we must all remain vigilant and committed to protecting ourselves and the people around us. This means recognizing when a loved one is vulnerable to addiction and working to guide them toward help.

Prevention activism can also mean getting involved in the formation of public policy, holding awareness events within our own communities or simply learning about the physical and behavioral pathology of each drug so we know what to look for. Although state and municipal governments are finally allocating more resources toward address collective drug addiction, it will ultimately take a certain level of community will and action in order to eradicate it.

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Obama’s Final Round of Pardons Highlights Prison Rates for Drug Offenders

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 7, 2016 10:11:23 AM / by RU Texas posted in Addiction, Treatment, Obama, Drug Crimes, Pardons

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Last month President Obama reduced the sentences of six federal inmates from Texas during his administration’s most recent and final wave of clemency and commutation. To date, the President has issued more pardons than the last eleven combined. Of particular interest to the outgoing administration has been the collective plight of non-violent drug offenders, nearly a thousand of whom have seen their sentences reduced during Obama’s time in office. In all, the President has granted clemency to 1023 people since taking office, a majority of whom have been sentenced under mandatory minimum drug-laws which many argue are comparatively strict under the current code.

One of the most recent, and admittedly glaring, examples of these laws lies in the case of Texas man recently pardoned by the President after being sentenced to 30 years in prison and 10 years of supervised release for possession and intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. He was sentenced in the Southern District of Texas in the late 1990s. While House Counsel Neil Eggleston described the pardons as a second chance for those who have earned it. Others in the latest round of pardons include those sentenced for meth trafficking and production and crack cocaine distribution.

As the sun sets on the Obama administration, it leaves behind an undeniable legacy of compassion toward non-violent drug offenders; however, they also leave firmly in place the legal climate that ensnared these offenders and removed them from their families in the first place. It’s unclear, and will remain so for at least a year, whether President-elect Trump will wield the power of the pardon in a fashion similar to his predecessor; however, with a prison system that is overwhelmingly packed (some say “bloated”) with these offenders, the wisdom of the incarceration-first approach continues to be questioned on both sides of the aisle.

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