Last Chance for Drug Dealers
Many cities have been brought down by crimes associated with drugs and drug dealing. Some communities have given up and law enforcement finds itself fighting a losing battle with the drug market. An unlikely solution is making its way across the country, bringing with it both more peaceful neighborhoods, and an end to the conflict between neighbors and drug dealers.
High Point Intervention
High Point Intervention was first created to address drug-laden areas of High Point, North Carolina. Led by Chief James Fealy in 2003, the new strategy did more than simply arrest drug dealers and put them in prison. While we want to get drug dealers off the street; simply holding them in prison and then releasing them to the public to do the same thing in the same neighborhoods, is not a good solution. But by taking control of the drug market and helping give these criminals the chance for real reform, cities are able to heal and move forward.
High Point Intervention starts with creating a bond between law enforcement and members of the community that are willing to help the neighborhood turn around. Violent drug dealers are identified and arrested, but non-violent drug dealers are given a second chance. Not just let go, but rather, given the support and help needed to start a new life apart from drugs. In order to do this, all resources must be put in place, including all the evidence for a criminal case against the individual, as well as help to get out of the drug scene. The offenders are brought into a room full of law enforcement, individuals from the community, and ex-offenders. The situation is explained to them that there is a case built against them, and they are one step away from being locked up, but that they are being given one final chance. If the person agrees to give up the drug dealing by making use of the support of social services and others in the community, the case against them will be put on hold. But at the first slip up, they will be put in prison.
Helping People Succeed
This method has been effective in High Point, as well as 25 other cities across the country that followed the same approach. The fact that these people are on their way to prison and given a second chance is really a powerful tool in motivating them to clean up their lives. But it is important for services to be coordinated beforehand so that the individuals has a way to earn an income, can get help with their own drug and emotional problems, and feel like they will be able to become a contributing member of society. Without the extra help, support, and follow through, this program would simply trick someone into behaving for a while before going right back to what they were doing.
There are concerns about this program because of the fact that it lets non-violent drug dealers back on the street. But High Point Intervention has had success in each city where it has been used, and these communities now work together to keep these ex-drug dealers on the right track.