February 7, 2014

"This is a good place to be an addict and a single mom”

Down and Out in Vermont by Geoffrey Norman in the Weekly Standard

Drive-bys. Dealers dropped in the act of going for a gun. Lawn signs warning the druggies to stay away. It doesn’t seem right—not on these leafy streets in this little city with its splendid views of the mountains a mile or two distant.

“Tell me about it,” Prouty says.
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“They steal anything they can sell. Copper. The catalytic converters out of cars. Electronics, of course. They’ll walk into Walmart and pick up a flat-screen television and just walk out with it.”

He and the rest of Baker’s officers do what they can. They make their presence known. They make arrests. But the numbers are not on their side. The state can lock up only so many and keep them only so long.
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If you live in the state, you feel a certain undeniable pride in the way that they, like Jim Baker and Matt Prouty, are taking on the problem. There is a measure of the old Vermont spirit of yeomanry about it….This heroin invasion, though, is a different kind of fight. The enemy is an alternative sensibility, one that is exactly contrary to that older spirit. Heroin is the agent of total surrender. The drug of demoralization.

“There are so many programs. So much assistance. This is a good place to be an addict and a single mom”….This woman works for the paternalistic government, after all, and her clients are welfare mothers. Her words are spoken out of a deep frustration. And it is shared, around the table, as women nod ….
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The trend is not unique to Vermont, as the example of places where methamphetamine abuse is rampant makes plain. Vermont, so far, has mostly been spared that vector of the plague. But not the idleness, dependency, and demoralization.

Still, the police are willing to stand up to the gangs, and the women at Mandala House are not afraid to tell an addicted mother to hang up her clothes.  So there is hope.
Posted by Jill Fallon at February 7, 2014 2:13 PM | Permalink