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Father of drug offender thanks judge for ‘tough love’ in courtroom

Posted 29 July 2014 at 12:00 am

Editor:

I am troubled by the recent editorial (War on Drugs is an abject failure) that appeared to be a personal attack on Judge Punch and his courtroom approach to drug offenders. I, for one, would like to see harsher penalties for drug offenders, particularly, those that are selling illegal drugs to those under age 21. I applaud the tough love that Judge Punch is showing in the courtroom and for Orleans County.

Orleans County appears to have a culture that marijuana and anything softer than heroine is acceptable. I wonder if that culture is perpetuated by those that are selling marijuana, ecstasy, illegal prescription drugs, cocaine, etc.?

The most common reason I hear from young people on why they do these drugs is because everyone else is doing them. It is this culture within the County that has me wishing I never moved to Orleans County 30-plus years ago.

My high school age son has been arrested for drug-related offenses. He has attended sessions with the probation department, performed community service, attended numerous counseling sessions at GCASA, attended numerous professional counseling sessions, a mental health evaluation, and numerous courtroom visits.

From my experience, he has been given numerous chances to move away from dangerous behaviors. I would also say he has been given too many chances. That has caused me to question if there is an adequate level of concerted effort among the numerous agencies to help young and the more mature drug offenders.

In the course of all the visits and meetings with my son, I have repeatedly heard that numerous agencies cannot do much of value to help your people who are making dangerous choices. I believe that defeatist attitude has limited the success of my son and his friends in similar situations.

The Search Institute has found that developmental relationships and assets are essential for the success of young people in education and life. The relationships and assets revolve around family and non-family members who care about them.

I would encourage that an increased effort of collaboration be done between our police agencies, probation department, schools, courts and other counseling offices to work together to make Orleans County a better place for our young people to grow up and for parents to want to raise their children. Judge Punch has provided an excellent model for caring. Let’s rally around that effort rather than putting up any barriers.

A few other comments about Mr. Remley’s editorial:

Anyone who has lived with a drug user or abuser knows it is NOT a “most frequently victimless crime.”  Most every burglary that goes through the court the defendant is stealing items to get money for more drugs.

How many marriages and families have been ruined due to drug abuse and dependence? I can name many from Orleans County. How many accidents or deaths have occurred due to drug use and abuse? I can name several in Orleans County.

The comment was made that the war on drugs is an “abject failure” and inferred we should just give up because the illicit use of recreational drugs is so profound. That is the ultimate low point in the “us” vs. “them” argument.

Just because $400,000,000,000 is spent on illegal activity we should just give up the effort to improve our communities?  Because so much money is spent then you are now the “us” in power to make the decision? That is irresponsible to our nation. If nothing else we should give that much more effort to turn it around. I am certain most all would say that money could be better spent in any number of ways.

The biggest problem with the editorial was the lack of seeing the big picture. Let’s stop looking at problems though our own selfish wants and desires and start to look at what will make Orleans County, the State, and the nation a better place for us all.

I do definitely agree that drug users, abusers and addicts need help from our communities, churches, and non-governmental organizations.  We have this help in the Orleans County. I strongly believe that it needs greater coordination, a vision, and action plans.

Who will lead this effort?  My money is on someone like Judge Punch who sees the big picture, who sees a need for change, and who has the fortitude to make the tough changes and decisions.

Editor’s Note: The author’s name is being withheld to protect the identity of his children.