Fighting our drug abuse problem goes beyond arrests

Recently, there has been a push by the local drug task forces to try and relinquish the hold of drugs and drug monies on the Mid-Ohio Valley. Our papers have been littered and our local evening news, almost daily, holds the headlines of another drug bust, trafficker exposed, arrests made, etc. While I wholeheartily believe that this is a step in saving our community from the evils of the drug world, I also believe it to be only a small fraction of the resources and solution to a enormous problem in this area. I know that as a parent I am very thankful when I see that one of the offenders is pulled off the streets. However, if you continue to follow the story of each drug trafficker and abuser you slowly see the great work of our task force for surveillance and arrests followed by rescheduled court dates, large gaps of time pass, and then when they finally are supposed to face their consequences they often get opportunities to plea deals in exchange for information or wire wearing for a bigger player in the drug world. And say the plea deal is removed from the table and they actually have to face their charges, the judge gives them a very minor slap on the wrist – like 120 days in county jail and three years probation. The community is supposed to be reassured by the “don’t worry, if they mess up and get caught on probation they will then face prison time.”

Two things – First, if I was the officer that poured out hours of my time into this case, I would be greatly disheartened that all of my time away from family and hard work culminated with little consequence. Second, if I was a family member I would be devastated by my last hope crushed that maybe stiff consequences and time away from the physical use of the drugs, the community the drug users keep, and cycle of supply and demand might provide a glimmer of hope to the addict and inspire change.

Also, can the papers and news media of our area please explain why some of the addicts and traffickers are not plastered all over the front pages and TV screen – while most are reported on in every facet on multiple occasions? Should the community not see the faces of danger that their children pass on the sidewalks, parks, and playgrounds in their communities? The addicts have no concept of how numb they are to empathy, compassion, and general common sense for the safety and welfare of themselves and others. They have one thing on their mind and it’s not how safe others are when they drive down the streets, stay in the hotel room next to a family, or the gun toting criminals they bring in from other cities such as Detroit, Chicago, and Columbus. They can’t – their brains are chemically addicted and warped to the desire and need for their drug(s).

My sister, Molly Rudolph, plead guilty to all three counts of felony trafficking of heroin. She failed to appear to one of her court dates, which should have been an automatic three days in jail in which she received zero and was rewarded by her next court date pushed months further down the road. She was never on WTAP, and until recently, nothing about her was in the paper. When her name finally did make the paper it was a small sentence in the front page story of Robert J. Becker Jr., who was arrested months after her. She was sentenced on March 7, 2014 by Judge Burnworth and again no coverage. Because it was her “first” offense, she was sentenced to 120 days in county jail and three years probation. She was given the privilege of reading a letter to the judge during the sentencing. In her letter she lied about changing her behavior in the last year and a half since the arrest. We are talking about a person who has been involved in using heroin and other drugs, selling drugs, and hiding and harboring criminals for 20 years. There have been women and men arrested and sentenced for less that appeared on the front pages of the papers and on WTAP coverage. Who else escaped the consequence of community? Why are we not being provided the ability to at least know names and faces of those bringing danger into our area? And lastly, how is it fair to the others that had their names and faces out in the public eye while others are protected?

Finally, I write this as a mother who wants her children to live in a safe community. As an aunt who wants her sister’s child to be relieved from the criminal activity she has been exposed to. And as a sister who ultimately wants her sister clean, healthy and restored.

In closing, not one fraction of the process can work alone to solve the Mid-Ohio Valley’s drug problem. Our drug tasks forces have to put in the hours and clean police work, prosecutors need to work harder at providing justice in a timely matter, judges need to give stricter sentences, rehab services, children protective services and the community needs to be passionately involved in caring for the children stuck in this world. We are currently leaving unprotected children in situations where they are abused, neglected, and doomed to repeat the addictions and criminal behaviors of their parents. We are leaving addicts with no motivation to change and no hope of life outside of this dark drug world. And ultimately we are leaving our communities and especially our children vulnerable to abuse, addictions, shootings, robberies, overdoses.

Jennifer C. Ireland lives in Vincent.