Pubdate: Fri, 24 Sep 2004
Source: Oak Ridger (TN)
Copyright: 2004 The Oak Ridger
Author: AP
Bookmark: (Incarceration)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


CLEVELAND (AP) - After listening to a former teacher describe how almost 
five years in federal prison helped her escape addictive methamphetamine, 
Gov. Phil Bredesen said he agrees abusers need to be locked up. "They've 
got to spend some time in a confined situation," Bredesen said Thursday 
after the Grundy County woman recalled the "invincible" feelings the drug 
provided as it took control of her life within a week in 1998.

"You have no conscience when you are doing it--no remorse," said the woman, 
who gave her name to the governor but asked reporters to keep her identity 

The woman said she received 500 hours of addiction treatment during her 
prison term.

Bredesen also said he would "look into" whether there is any way that 
TennCare, the state's health care program for the poor and uninsured that 
he is trying to reduce, might provide some treatment benefit for meth addicts.

Methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous 
system and is cooked from over-the-counter ingredients.

The governor made the comments following a strategy session with lawmakers 
and other officials, drug agents and members of his methamphetamine task 
force in Bradley County, the new ground zero of the destructive drug in 

Records show Bradley leading counties statewide, with 150 raids on 
clandestine meth labs between January 1, 2003, and earlier this month, and 
23 children removed from the custody of parents charged in meth cases 
between April 1 and June 30.

Bredesen did not pledge support for any of his task force recommendations, 
such as starting a registry of transactions involving cold tablets 
containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine that are used to make 
methamphetamine. He said he plans to develop legislation for 2005.

Agents and prosecutors at the meeting described how meth abusers when 
arrested typically are released on bond and get caught repeatedly before 
they can be prosecuted in the state's slow-moving court system.

Teresa Grant said she and other employees at a child advocacy center have 
started seeing younger meth users, including their first "12-year-old as a 

She said that signals a "whole new generation of users and cookers and 
lives that are destroyed."

"I don't think it is the only 12 year old," Grant said. "She snorted it and 
she had seen it at home."

Grant said there have been younger children describing how to make the drug.

The task force recommendations also included tougher penalties, new 
education initiatives and increased funding for treatment.

Tom Farmer, a Hamilton County deputy and member of the South/East Tennessee 
Methamphetamine Task Force, asked Bredesen to support all the task force 

He said methamphetamine is different from other drugs because it harms 
anyone who is exposed to the poison fumes and the labs destroy property.

"This is a different beast," Farmer said. "It impacts that family, the 
community, the labor force and workforce. It is a motivator for other 
thefts and burglaries and robberies.

"The harms are still there when the kids get home and of course the 
environmental hazards."

He said two or three years behind bars is an essential part of fighting 
meth because otherwise "they are not going to get off the drug."
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager