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Let’s Spare our Kids from Meth

Representative Chuck Riley is a first term legislator representing Hillsboro, Forest Grove and Cornelius.Rileyphoto2

The news media have recently given us some terrifying glimpses of the tragedy of methamphetamine in our communities.

In stark photographs we have seen the empty faces of addicts-turned-criminals. We’ve seen the skin sores, the rotting teeth and the hopeless eyes. We’ve heard the stories of once-promising young people falling into the grip of a drug that robs its victim of any sense of right and wrong. And we’ve heard about the costs to society—the ruined lives, the suffering of crime victims, the public expense.

Nobody doubts that the Legislature must do something. I’m glad to report that we’re considering a wide range of bills aimed at toughening the law against the manufacture, distribution and sale of methamphetamine. I’ve pledged to support any measure that reduces the suffering that this scourge has inflicted upon our families and communities. I support the Governor’s Meth Task Force, and I’ll do everything I can to provide the resources our criminal justice system needs to beat this threat.

I have a special concern, however, for the children of addicts and the children of the criminals who make and sell meth. Can you imagine anything more tragic than the death of a toddler who died less than two months after an agency returned him to his biological parents, when his parents had a history of methamphetamine abuse?

What’s more heart-wrenching than the reality of an infant crawling around on the carpet of a house where adults make meth, breathing toxic fumes and absorbing the residue of poisons that can impair a human being for life? Think of a small child, neglected and abused, craving parental warmth and needing the supervision of a caring adult, but living in the dark hole of the meth culture. Think of the loss society suffers when such kids slip through the cracks and end up as addicts and criminals themselves.

What chance do these kids have? Who will look out for them, if their meth-addled parents won’t?

I have drafted two bills that I believe can help.

The first creates the crime of “endangering the welfare of a minor” in the first degree. It pertains to any adult who manufactures methamphetamine with one or more children present.

The second bill creates the crime of “criminal mistreatment” in the first degree, and applies to any situation in which a child suffers an injury because of methamphetamine, or when meth is present.
Both crimes would be punishable by a maximum of five to ten years’ imprisonment, a fine of $125,000 to $250,000, or both.

I won’t pretend that these bills offer the full cure for the suffering of Oregon’s meth-children. Nothing can substitute for effective prevention and substance-abuse treatment. For that matter, we all know that joblessness and poverty contribute to crime and addiction. Still, I sincerely hope these tougher laws and penalties will get the attention of those adults who sacrifice their lives to meth.

It’s bad enough when a grown adult inflicts the demon of methamphetamine on himself. It’s unforgivable when he inflicts that demon on a child.

May 31, 2005 by Chuck Riley
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Thank you for sharing Chuck. I have to ask a couple questions however.

Where are you going to put the convicted criminals and how are you going to pay to push them through the legal system, since we both know that you will not be collecting those fines.

Secondly, what you are proposing in the realm of prevention? You admit that prevention is a more effective solution, so what good do you expect to come from what amounts to intentional but empty gestures that merely add more enforcement burdains?

Posted by: Steven Lewis | Jun 14, 2005 5:29:03 PM

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