Monday, March 27, 2006
One Client's Story, in brief
Here it is...
"When the woman who witnessed her step-daughter be struck and killed by the drunk driver read her letter to the court at the man's sentencing, she seemed like a typical mom, her life seemingly together until the day she witnessed the tragedy. She choked back tears and had no idea that Mother Against Drunk Driving would eventually publish her letter in their magazine.
What the readers of the MADD newsletter didn't know when they read this woman's letter was about a year before she wrote it, she was laying on the floor of the jail, quivering from heroine withdrawal as her public defender, me, tried to interview her.
The woman who wrote the letter, who witnessed the drunk driving accident was on probation for theft when she wrote it, and she also plead guilty to drugged driving since, when the police picked her up, she was strung out.
What transformed the woman from quivering on the jail floor to writing articles in MADD's newsletter? One lucky break.
I was talking to a woman who told me she was five years sober from crack addiction and that she conducted AA/NA meetings at the jail. Offhandedly I asked her to look in on my client, Teresa, adding that she was probably a lost cause, but that she wasn't always this way.
The woman I talked to met Teresa in jail and even picked Teresa up on her release date,taking her straight to an AA meeting and agreeing to act as her sponsor, to help her get back on her feet.
When I saw Teresa in court, months after this, the change was amazing. She looked like a different person and even the hardened judge was shocked at teh transformation.
So, how do we duplicate this story and turn a junkie into a productive citizen, who writes letters that MADD publishes in its newsletter? I'm not sure but I know building on AA/NA, on free sponsorship, on drug courts and on people who give a shit about other people are a good start. Short term incarceration is often a good start too, especially if incentives to avoid more jail in the future are incorporated.
One of my clients told me that when they asked her to "just stop using" without offering her treatment was like telling me to "just stop breathing." "After all." she said, "it's something I don't know how to do without."
Jailing addicts and small dealers for decades makes about as much sense."
You can probably see why I didn't include the part about her being back in prison, eh?