Pubdate: Tue, 03 Nov 2015
Source: Press Democrat, The (Santa Rosa, CA)
Copyright: 2015 The Press Democrat
Author: Sheilah French


EDITOR: Reading the horrific details of the demise of Dara Gaunt in a 
Lake County jail ("Jail staff clear in SR woman's death," Thursday), 
I wondered when we are going to end the barbaric practice of throwing 
non-violent substance abusers in jail, leaving them to suffer the 
dangerous mental and physical effects of withdrawal alone and uncared 
for. Roughly half of the people who abuse drugs also suffer from at 
least one serious mental illness, and addiction itself is a hideous 
affliction no one consciously chooses.

My 19-year-old son spent six months in jail for using illegal drugs. 
Like Gaunt, he wasn't charged with nor did he have any history of 
violence, theft or selling drugs. He endured jail in a state of 
extreme anxiety and depression for which he received virtually no 
medical attention. Four days after his release, he died of an 
accidental overdose.

My son wrote, "My crimes are against myself. I know I need to get 
clean, but I hate to do it in a jail cell." Would he or Gaunt still 
be with us, contributing their talents to society, had they received 
compassionate and adequate medical care instead of rotting in jail?


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