Opinion: Soft isn’t helpful for drug offenses

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The events (Friday, July 27) causing many lives to be put into danger by the “alleged” drug user, who rampaged on the freeway from Washington to Idaho, has brought to my attention exactly how big of an issue drugs are in our area.

From personal experience, I have seen a repeat misdemeanor drug offender face little to no repercussions for his actions due to “no irreparable injury.” He is small change in comparison to the perpetrator from last Friday. However, where did this perpetrator begin? How many “minor” offenses did he have? How many times was he incarcerated, placed on probation, or had friends and family beg him to stay clean before the event that happened yesterday? How many “small-time” victims did he cause pain to? Emotionally, mentally, physically? And what will it take for our judicial system to place HIGHER repercussions on small-time offenders in order to prevent future serious injuries or even fatalities? When will our community in Coeur d’Alene and its greater area take a stronger stance on drugs, addicts, and repeat offenders?

Some may argue it is a disease. Is it a disease or is it a choice? Are they born being addicted to drugs to where they will need them for the rest of their lives in order to survive? Or is it something that they only needed to try once to kill the pain?

My daughter has a disease she was born with. She did not have a choice and she did not have a voice. It brought her to the brink of death more than once. She was not offered a simple yes or no choice, “do you want to try this disease?” Surely her response would be “no” if that had ever been handed to her. I guarantee those who suffer from actual debilitating diseases, if given the choice to have it or not, they would have said “NO THANK YOU.”

Drug addiction is NOT A DISEASE! IT IS A CHOICE! We do not have to hold the hands of those offenders who rape, lie, cheat, steal, beat, and kill while under the influence of drugs that they chose to use.

“PEOPLE CAN CHANGE.” Yes, they can … but what happens when they don’t? Who has to suffer? And who will their next victim be? It could be your son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, grandmother or grandfather … perhaps even someone close to you …

So please, Editor, tell me what it will take for those in our community to take a harsher stance on drugs and their offenders, and protect our elderly, our children, and our friends and families as a whole?

•••

Leslie Messner is a Coeur d’Alene resident.

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