More women arrested for pain pills stresses jails
Posted: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 8:00 pm
KINGSTON (AP) — A Tennessee prosecutor says the burgeoning pain pill problem is filling jails beyond capacity with women.
Ninth Judicial District Attorney General Russell Johnson told the Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/13HXKj6) three of the four counties in his district have overcrowded jails, largely because of an increase in women being arrested. Johnson is the state prosecutor in Roane, Morgan and Meigs counties.
“When I started hearing from the sheriffs that their female populations were staying anywhere from 50 percent to 150 percent over normal, I knew that we had a problem,” Johnson said.
Johnson said women are becoming pain pill addicts and described the situation as an epidemic.
Johnson said when mothers become addicted, their children often suffer.
“When the female caretaker is more worried about finding and buying her next oxycodone, roxycodone or Xanax, then the kids go without the food or the parenting that they need,” Johnson said.
He said sometimes, children end up under the care of the Department of Children’s Services, further stressing an overburdened agency.
Johnson said the trend became starkly evident during a February drug roundup in Loudon County. He said the vast majority of suspects were women.
There are 172 beds at the jail, and 34 are designated for woman. Roane County Sheriff Jack Stockton said on Friday, there were more than 200 inmates in jail, and 47 of them were women.
Stockton estimated that 95 percent of the female inmates are there because of problems linked to the “abuse of prescription pain pills.” He said the abuse spawns other crimes like shoplifting, theft and burglary as addicts are “trying to keep that (pain pill) habit supplied.”
In Wartburg, Morgan County Sheriff Glen Freytag said he has space for 14 women but had 21 in jail Monday.
“Everybody tries to work together to get it off the streets,” Freytag said of pain pills and methamphetamine. “It’s an ongoing problem, and it’s kind of hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“It’s affecting about every jail in this district and every jail across the state.”
Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com
Published in The Messenger 5.22.13