Point/Counterpoint: Which facts are most important?

Point: James Hull

As the debate in Lee County continues to simmer just below the surface of massive public outcry and angry protest over whether it should put funds into the Justice Court Drug Court, I propose there is a much larger issue at stake: the convergence of education, incarceration and drug rehabilitation.

With the state’s prison population continuing to escalate, while simultaneously becoming younger and more addicted to drugs, Gov. Phil Bryant recently remarked it’s time to begin focusing more on rehabilitation than incarceration. Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps emphasizes that the majority of those youth offenders entering the state’s prison system have two things in common: a lack of education and a need for drug rehabilitation.

The connections are clear.

Unfortunately, many don’t see it that way.

But what if that drug offender were their high school son or daughter caught with a few tabs of Oxy or Ecstasy. Or if it were their adult child possessing a few rocks of crack or crystal meth?

The questions for me are this: Even though they can conceivably get caught with the same amount of prescription pills or illegal drugs, is it fair or just that one parent who has the means and the connections can send their child to rehab and then back in school, while another parent has to watch their child go to jail and begin getting schooled in the ways of crime?

Or should the second parent have some alternative – like drug court – to give their child a second chance?

Counterpoint: Ed Holliday

James, when the drug court was initiated in Lee County, the supervisors let it be known that its existence would be tied to the availability of grant money to fund it. When elected officials stand by their word such action should be a cause for celebration. In this era of ever-rising federal taxes and mandates I applaud our county supervisors for sticking to their word to the taxpayers.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that one statistic gets very little mention but is more important than the two common links that Commissioner Epps sighted.

We have just celebrated the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” and this one statistic is devastatingly brutal to society but now we know it is also non-discriminating. African-American columnist Armstrong Williams recently noted when we look at statistics nationally, we find that African-Americans make up 12 percent of the population and yet are 44 percent of prisoners incarcerated. At first glance we wonder how can this be? Is racism involved? Dr. Pat Fagan, a brilliant researcher at the Family Research Council, has found a consistent common denominator within our prisons. Armstrong noted in Fagan’s work, “Statistics show that young black men with married parents go to jail at the same rate as white men with married parents.” The opposite is also true because “young black men without married parents go to jail at the same rate as white men without married parents.” A young person’s risk to drop out of school, go to prison, or be added to poverty statistics increases substantially when there is not both a mother and a father in their home. The most important factor in decreasing our prison population is not skin color, socio-economic conditions, or drug courts, but building more homes for children where both a mother and a father reside.

DR. ED HOLLIDAY is a Tupelo dentist who has written two successful books. Contact him at ed@teaparty.ms. REV. JAMES HULL is an award-wining journalist and a political consultant. You may contact him at hullmultimediams@aol.com.

Click video to hear audio

  • FrereJocques

    So, Ed, it’s REALLY all about the money. Peoples’ lives aren’t what’s important. Typical Conservative Republican Tea Party thinking.

  • Kevin

    I don’t know why so many have faith in the treatment avenue for drug offenders. I believe the recidivism rate among those who had treatment is rather high. In other words, it doesn’t work. Prison doesn’t work either. Maybe it’d be best just to legalize drugs because a majority of the now legal pharmaceuticals in thsi country are about as bad as meth and ecstasy–perhaps even worse because with the SSRI antidepressants, people stay on them for life. No telling what damage those things are doing to the brain.

  • 1941641

    Right-wing Conservative Tea Party Representative, Dr. Ed Holliday:

    Dr. Holliday is a man aligned with those who represent the extremist pseudo-Christian-Right AFA/FRC “Dark Side” of Tupelo, MS and America. It appears that Dr. Holliday’s commentary is more representative of religious-right issues than one might have initially thought.

    For example: What is FRC?

    Why is FRC listed on the SPLC Hate Group List?: http://www.frc.org/issuebrief/the-southern-poverty-law-center-splc-and-its-so-called-hate-groups

    FRC’s Patrick Fagan:

    “Patrick F. Fagan is Senior Fellow and Director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI), which examines the relationships among family, marriage, religion, community, and America’s social problems, as illustrated in the social science data. The Institute has a particular emphasis on the relationship between marital stability coupled with the practice of religion and their joint impacts on our social infrastructure (issues such as happiness, health, mental health and general well being, income and savings, educational attainment and family stability as well as such negative outcomes as poverty, crime, abuse, and drug addiction).”

    “Family Research Council believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed. It is by definition unnatural, and as such is associated with negative physical and psychological health effects. While the origins of same-sex attractions may be complex, there is no convincing evidence that a homosexual identity is ever something genetic or inborn. We oppose the vigorous efforts of homosexual activists to demand that homosexuality be accepted as equivalent to heterosexuality in law, in the media, and in schools. Attempts to join two men or two women in “marriage” constitute a radical redefinition and falsification of the institution, and FRC supports state and federal constitutional amendments to prevent such redefinition by courts or legislatures. Sympathy must be extended to those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions, and every effort should be made to assist such persons to overcome those attractions, as many already have.”

    Read more from the FRC Web Ste: http://www.frc.org/op-eds/the-supreme-courts-first-assault-on-marriage