Getting dealers and druggie crims off streets is only half the battle
Getting dealers and druggie crims off streets is only half the battle

EDITORIAL: Dismissing drug trends does more damage

'PITY his dad wasn't successful'.

This was a comment posted under a Chronicle story on social media about a local drug dealer who the Maryborough Supreme Court heard had almost drowned as a baby at the hands of his abusive father.

It was the first of many disturbing moments in the life of someone who undoubtedly had a rougher childhood than most.

Understandably however, there's very little sympathy for anyone spreading misery through our community and we all know someone who's been through hell (or we've had a personal tour) and still managed to be a decent member of society.

But while we can say 'there comes a time in life when we all get to make choices regardless of the things that haunt us' and 'there's no excuse' - leaving it at that is a mistake in a region like ours where like it or not, this problem is not going away.

Spend some time in our courts, or even read the Maryborough Supreme Court sentences from just this week and it's pretty easy to see some common themes.

Drug dealers at a local level are often not living the high life we're used to seeing on TV shows - they are addicts relying on their customer base to fund their own habits and while some have the support of families and claim to have just 'lost their way', the similarities in the majority of defence 'sob stories' are staggering.

We are often quick to criticise magistrates and judges for what we see as weak sentencing and while most of us would like to see a heavier hand in our courts, getting drug-fuelled crims 'off the streets' is actually only half the battle.

Prison is a poor rehab.

They are likely to come out of motel Maryborough in worse shape than when they went in and given sentences are generally at the lower end, it's never long before we're graced with their presence again.

Ask any police officer or lawyer and they'll be able to predict the majority of surnames that will be appearing on the court list each week. The lists in Maryborough and Hervey Bay Magistrates Court have barely changed since this editor was a fledgling crime reporter 13 years ago.

Some of the first names have. Their kids and younger siblings have outgrown juvenile justice.

While some people are simply bad to the core, it's time we all start caring more about what happens to children in troubled homes, actively support rehabilitation centres and advocate for 'straight to rehab' sentencing (to tough love organisations like Bayside Transformations, not well-intentioned but inadequate support groups).

If giving drug bosses and junkies a second (and sometimes seventeenth chance before it sticks) seems a bit too nauseating, think about it from a purely selfish perspective.

As long as dependence rules their lives, it's our homes, cars and businesses they'll be breaking in to and our children and grandchildren they'll be hoping to turn into repeat customers by first tempting them with popular 'party' drugs.

Dealing with the demons that drive dealers is in everyone's interest.