The Transylvania Times -

Sentence Exacerbates Problem


July 2, 2018

Last Monday’s paper, June 25, carried a story about Marc Hayes Thompson being sentenced to serve a minimum of 10 years in prison for stealing drugs from Transylvania Regional Hospital.

According to District Attorney Greg Newman, “This was a brazen act on his part and this is what makes an addict a dangerous person. They are determined to feed the addiction and are prepared to steal, damage property and to potentially hurt others who may get in their way.”

Newman’s statement, and the sentence imposed, reflect society’s hard-nosed, punitive response to drugs and those addicted that has cost this country well over $1.5 trillion, destroyed millions of lives and families, brought violence to our streets and made America awash in drugs. This approach shows a total lack of understanding about addiction: how it develops, how it influences behavior and how to treat it. It also shows a total lack of empathy and compassion for a fellow human being.

Thompson’s act was wrong, and he should pay restitution for any damage he caused. He should also be placed under some kind of ongoing supervision. But a minimum of 10 years in prison serves no one’s best interests and will do nothing to address his addiction. In that regard, it is the most counter-productive response to that addiction. What Thompson really needs is supervised, scientifically-based, com-passionate treatment. While this treatment is not free, it is far less costly than housing him in prison and leaving his family without a breadwinner. Like diabetes and heart disease, addiction can be a chronic condition that lasts a lifetime.

Like diabetes and heart disease, it can also be treated and managed so as to allow the person to lead a normal life.

All of us are touched by addiction in one way or another. Much of the harm it causes results from our response to that addiction. Until now, that response has been punitive and cruel. That approach has not worked. Things will improve only when society becomes enlightened about drugs and addiction and elects enlightened officeholders. That time cannot come soon enough.

Jim Hardy

Pisgah Forest


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