Community Pays Price For Drug Addicts

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A recent letter to the editor made the case that people arrested for drug convictions should not be sent to prison, but a separate facility where they are not mixed in with murderers and thieves -- that addiction, being an illness, is a victimless crime.

In the overwhelming majority of drug arrests, other crimes against people have been committed either as a result of the perpetrator being under the influence, or in an attempt to feed his habit.

Gila County Sheriff's Det. Brian Havey -- someone who is on the front lines-- says that wherever you have drugs, you have theft of property and wherever you have theft of property, you have drugs.

In the last two weeks, there have been three burglaries and several assaults -- all related to drugs.

"It puzzles me when people say a user isn't hurting anyone but themselves, because the impact goes on and on," Police Lt. Don Engler said. "We've had several rings here where drug users were trading stolen property directly for methamphetamine. We had one fencing operation that involved seven residential burglaries and nine vehicle burglaries. Obviously, innocent citizens are being affected."

Meth, which is widely produced, sold and used in our community, has left countless victims in its wake. Children are neglected by parents who are solely concerned with feeding their habit. Family members are exposed to toxic substances when meth is produced in the kitchen laboratory. Residents have had property stolen to finance a thief's drug habit.

Havey also confirms that wherever you find an addict, you find guns -- guns that are used on spouses, police officers, or perhaps an innocent bystander.

The more indirect victims of drug users are the taxpayers who foot the bill for defense attorneys, incarceration, treatment, and law enforcement officers who arrest offenders only to see them released the next day.

Ideally, it would be most effective to catch the big suppliers rather than the small-time dealers and addicts who don't profit, but make enough to feed their habit.

Yet, when our homes and businesses are burglarized, our community's children live in squalor, unfed and neglected -- this is the act of our own, homegrown drug addict -- not the king pin.

We can only hope that prison provides treatment for the addict, but prison is often the appropriate place for them.

Anyone who has known a drug addict and considers every individual that has been affected by their addiction, understands that many innocents suffer from the illness and wrath of an addict.

Our community, undeniably, pays the price.

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