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Media Truth

Jails and New Laws Won't Stop Meth Epidemic

by Lewis Loflin

In 2012 Tennessee passed laws to restrict pseudoephedrine sales to get a handle on the out of control meth problem. In 2012 there were 1811 meth lab seizures, but from January to the end of October 2013 there were 1,485 seizures. The system of electronic tracking was supposed to monitor the purchase of meth "precursors" from local pharmacies. It looks to have made little to no impact on the problem.

See 58 Meth Convections Illustrate Problem in Tri-Cities

In Sullivan County alone where Bristol, Tennessee is located meth lab busts went from 33 in 2012 to 48 in 2013. The drug problem is behind the blowup between Sheriff Wayne Anderson and the Sullivan County Commission over jail funding. They were also way up in Russell and Washington Counties in Virginia.

The jails are bursting with white people arrested on drug charges. According to press reports the Sullivan County jail, which was recently expanded to accommodate 600, has more than 800 prisoners. (2013) It's so bad inmates are sleeping in cots or on the floor. Sullivan County Sheriff Wayne Anderson is so fed up over funding he is looking at alternative forms of sentencing such as ankle bracelets.

The reason for so many people in jail according to Sheriff Anderson is drugs and alcohol:

"I would say without a doubt that if there ever is a study done in that jail, I would go so far as to say the reason that 90 to 95 percent of everybody who is in our jail has to do with drugs or alcohol - the abuse of drugs or alcohol. People end up doing stupid things on drugs."

Some are calling for laws to mandate over-the-counter medications such as Sudafed be available by prescription only. So here we are in a low-wage, low-income community that will force people to get a costly doctor's visit just to get Sudafed?

This will be a joke - the problem of prescription drug abuse and trafficking is almost as bad as the meth problem. None the less some communities are passing their own laws to do just that - in fact 18 local governments did just that - but the Tennessee AG was illegal and only the state had that power. That attempt failed in 2011.

The real solution is to address the problem of the permanent underclass in this community with no access to drug treatment, jobs or anything else. We plow tens of millions into corporate welfare and public subsidies for business while ignoring a problem that in the long run will bankrupt the entire community. It's a system of social apartheid that needs to end.

Sending people to jail is easy - it gets rid of the undesirables for a while - addressing a corrupt social system is to be avoided at all costs.

Ref. BHC January 11, 2014. Posted January 22, 2014.