The Banality of Drug Violence
A perusal of the local news section of the Cincinnati Enquirer captures the relentless drudgery of the drug problem. The first story reports on a 19 year-old man shot accidentally in his car in the midst of a drug deal. A backseat passenger was reportedly showing off a weapon when it fired striking Mr. Robinson Hao Davalon. Police say the passenger, Mr. Todd Armstrong, mishandled the gun during the drug deal and shot Mr. Davalon. Mr. Davalon was then pushed out of the car at a nearby shopping mall and transported to the hospital by police where he implicated Mr. Robinson.
A second story revolves around a home invasion robbery. The two suspects went to the apartment of Bradley Stenger to sell him marijuana. However, when Stenger opened the door, the suspects pushed into the apartment and began to beat Stenger. One of the suspects, Bruce Weber, took Stenger’s gun, pointing it at Stenger and his girlfriend, demanding money. The suspects then ran away with Stenger chasing them. They were later apprehended by police. In the context of run of the mill drug violence, the story is notable only for the fact that one of the suspects, Bruce Weber, is the son of the Mayor of Blue Ash, a Cincinnati suburb.
The third story is less about violence and more about the power of addiction. A former assistant principal at a Sycamore Junior High School pleaded guilty to five felony drug counts and was referred to the Drug Court in lieu of prison. Douglas Kennedy is accused of fake prescriptions to buy Oxycontin and Vicodin at are Kroger and Walgreen stores. Kennedy’s job as an assistant principal paid him $92,308 annually.
Can policy changes have an impact on drug violence? In my opinion, the answer is a resounding YES. In the first instance, we would not have people sitting in cars with guns making marijuana deals when pot is a legal product. Nor would we have home invasion robberies which occur primarily because people in the drug business are sitting ducks for those who want to rip them off. Their recourse when victimized is not the police but to violently retaliate in turn.
In the case of Douglas Kennedy — he is extremely fortunate to find himself referred to drug court with a chance at recovery. The charges against him carried the potential for over 10 years in prison and the jails are full of those who did not have the opportunity Mr. Kennedy has received. Sending Mr. Kennedy and others like him to jail is a waste of time and dollars. At a cost of about $65,000 per year, Mr. Kennedy could have been warehoused in a state prison where history tells us, he would be very likely to offend again on his release. Every addict like Mr. Kennedy who can be saved is a win for our community and a blow against the drug cartels which thrive on the addictions of the thousands like Mr. Kennedy.