Saturday, July 25, 2009


I'm going to submit this letter to the Washington Missourian (I know that they have to be tired of hearing from me) in hopes of moving the discussion about meth along. I'm also going to send copies to the Sheriff and County Prosecutor. Figured since I wrote it I might as well put it on here, too.

To the Editor:

The recent discussions held in the editorial section of your paper regarding the restrictions on pseudoephedrine sales in the City of Washington and Franklin County have been robust and instructive. I think it fair to say that there is a high level of interest in this topic among the citizens of our county. This leads me to the conclusion that the time may be right to have an open and serious discussion regarding crime and our response to it as a county.

I believe in the axiom that all politics are local. I would extend this to include law and law enforcement. We cannot allow politicians and law enforcement from outside our county to handle issues that we should handle ourselves. The meth problem in Franklin County is most directly affecting us and so we should develop solutions that are peculiar to our situation.

I would like to hear from the County Prosecutor and the Sheriff. I would like to know exactly what would be required of the people of Franklin County to get the problem of meth abuse under control. I would also like to know what areas the law enforcement community believes need improvement in the county and what would be required to rectify problems in the areas they believe deficient. We need to know the cost and the proposals for funding. We need to know if cuts can be made or if we need to raise taxes. I would say to law enforcement that if you cannot make the case for these sacrifices to the citizens of the county your cause is hopeless. If we will not pay the cost to protect ourselves then we don’t deserve the protection.

Franklin County, if it is serious about ending the meth related problems, needs to develop a reputation as the last place in the country that anyone wants to commit a crime. Now, I’m just a carpenter and have no degree in criminal science or anything else for that matter. But I do have a least a modicum of common sense. To make our county as inhospitable to the criminal as possible I propose the following:

1) Re-establishment of work farms and chain gangs. I assume that this is still legal because they are used in the southern states. Anyone convicted of using methamphetamine should do his/her time at the county farm. I want these prisoners working, in full public view, with chains around their ankles and armed guards watching their every move. I want our kids to see them everyday as a constant reminder of the cost of crime. This isn’t going to kill anyone and is not cruel and unusual. This will by necessity cost the jobs of some county employees who would otherwise be doing the work that the prisoners are now doing. These employees should be allowed to find other jobs in the county system until they retire or find other employment. This may not be efficient but it will be just. Eventually, the county will see some benefit in reduced cost from the use of prison labor.

2) Those that manufacture and distribute methamphetamine need to have the full weight of the law come crashing down on them. I don’t know to what extent counties have authority to sentence criminals but I do believe that this constitutes a capital crime. If sentencing criminals to death is not within the purview of county law then Franklin County should begin a vigorous and public campaign to allow it to have this option in the sentencing guidelines. If nothing else, we’ll get a whole bunch of media coverage furthering our reputation as a place criminals don’t want to be. And who knows, maybe we could change the law.

3) The citizens of our county need training in ways to assist law enforcement. This is a huge county and one where the police cannot be everywhere at once. Our founding fathers envisioned citizen involvement in keeping the peace and enforcing the law, hence the second amendment. A well organized group of highly trained deputies would be an asset to the county and an additional set of eyes for the Sheriff Dept. This system of volunteers works for the majority of the county fire fighters and I see no reason it wouldn’t work for law enforcement. There would be some cost involved, but again, put the issue before the people. Meth production is prevalent in this county because the bad guys know that the chances of law enforcement coming across them are slim. If there are a large number of deputized citizens scattered all over the county this advantage disappears.

I want to make it clear, and I think I speak for the majority of Franklin County, we are grateful for the work done by the Sheriff and the County Prosecutor. You are doing everything that you can with what you have to work with. You can’t do it alone. It’s time that the citizens step up and assume our responsibility.

This is Franklin County’s problem and the solution needs to come from Franklin County. We must take responsibility for our own problems and not turn to others to find solutions. Like politics, all solutions are local. We will have to brace ourselves for the onslaught of self appointed, self important interlopers that will try to sue and harass us into submission. Remember, Franklin County belongs to us and we belong to her. If someone attacks your home you have the God given right to defend it. Franklin County is my home and I do not feel disposed to let her be destroyed by the people that commit crimes and those that defend them.

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