A recent community forum at John Dickinson High School was attended by at least 700 members of the community who want a solution to the heroin problem that seems to be plaguing many areas of Delaware. The News Journal has been conducting an in-depth report on the heroin problem in Delaware and co-sponsored the forum.
While there is no doubt that heroin has caused substantial pain and suffering to many people in the state, the hysteria surrounding the drug may lead to overzealous reactions by the community, police and prosecutors. In attempts to appear "tough on crime" people suspected of importing, distributing or using heroin may be caught up in a web of politically-charged paranoia. If the Constitution is not afforded the respect it deserves, innocent people may face the brunt of a brutal and misguided justice system. A community response to a real public health threat must be balanced with logic. Emotional reactions can lead to unwise and dangerous consequences that may do more long-term harm to the community.
The first step is ensuring people accused of heroin-related crimes are afforded excellent criminal defense. What should also be considered is helping those members of our community who are addicted to the drug. Sadly, treatment options in Delaware are extremely scarce. According to the News Journal story on the subject, addicts can most-readily find treatment in jail or out of state. Neither option is ideal. Though a law enforcement reaction may seem to be the best option for dealing with the crisis, a real solution to the problem will likely require a more complex and multi-faceted approach.