Are the efforts of the Coalition actually working

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor,

I’m trying to understand something that makes little sense, and yet I listen to people tell me they are making a difference when clearly, I see this is not the case.

This business of our youth and the “Safe and Healthy Coalition” seems about as inconsistent as the statistics they use to prove they are accomplishing something. A simple look at the people in the district court tells me they have yet to begin cracking this business of drugs, drinking, or anything else they intend to end. This past week, 12 cases have some form of substance abuse in the District Court, the remaining cases numbered 13, so at nearly half of this week’s charges are for some form of drug/alcohol infraction.

Magistrate Court had an additional five more cases dealing with drugs or alcohol, but my guess is an additional five cases that are driving while license is under suspension are also directly related to why their license was suspended.

The question to me seems to be if you concentrate so much effort on enforcement to deal with one specific problem, how much less is being concentrated on all the rest of law enforcement? If we make these fines and associated costs with convictions of these crimes so very expensive and continue to pile on more and more surcharges and jail time, is this also why so many offenders of other crimes are getting suspended sentences of their jail time? Is this jail space much more valuable for impaired drivers who more than likely have money to pay these fines and cover the cost of their incarceration because they work for a living?

The real point to all this is very simple, because you have such heavily restrictive laws about substance abuse and all the fines you can pile on, is this going to give you the results you are looking for? Taking a person’s license in a rural county that has few options for getting to work is further complicated by having to pay for the equipment to even start your car without alcohol on your breath simply for a work permit. Heaven forbid if you are running late and without thinking took a slug of mouth wash that contained alcohol because you probably aren’t going to get there!

So what is it we are after here, punishment or treatment? Can you survey kids and expect them to honestly answer? As a former kid some years removed from those days, I can say I could see a problem with this. From the prospective of watching this business unfold I have to wonder if there couldn’t be better bench marks which say we are getting whatever we think we are paying for and not just providing a living for an organizer who may or may not be having an impact beyond handing out trinkets and erroneous stats, followed by paper certificates thanking politicians for coughing up our money to pay for this.

Look for yourself, as I have, at the statistics listed in the courthouse news of what is happening and it will be very apparent whatever is being done to stop abuse of drugs or alcohol is not working.

Steve Hanken

Monticello, Iowa


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