Republican Gubernatorial Candidates Touts Plan to Fight Meth - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro, AR -- Lauren Payne Reports

Republican Gubernatorial Candidates Touts Plan to Fight Meth

July 27, 2006 -- Posted at 3:21 p.m . CDT

JONESBORO -- The manufacturing of meth, Republican Gubernatorial Candidate, Asa Hutchinson, says is a uniquely "rural America" problem.

It's the combination of easy access to farm products with meth ingredients like ammonia, and rural areas where it's hard to detect odors, that make this area a prime place for production.

"Even though now we are reducing the number of labs in Arkansas, it's the criminal organizations that are bringing the meth, or ice in, and filling the streets of Jonesboro, Paragould,  and the small towns in Arkansas," said Hutchinson.

Meth is not just a problem in rural America anymore.

It's sweeping across the nation, infiltrating each and every socioeconomic level.

Now, Asa Hutchinson says he has a plan to fight it in Arkansas.

"I would create the bureau of drug enforcement inside the Arkansas State Police. It would take some of the other officers already doing counter narcotics, and put them into this focused effort," said Hutchinson.

Expanding drug treatment courts is another idea to curb drug use in Arkansas.

Hutchinson says it's an alternative to jail for someone with a drug and a "non-violent crime" problem.

A second chance at "righting" a dangerous wrong.

"You want to have treatment with accountability. Treatment programs don't work when it's just voluntary.......you know, go when you want to. This program, you answer to the judge every week, drug tested on a weekly basis, and if you break these terms, you go to jail," said Hutchinson.

Education is key, Hutchinson says.

Relaying to kids and teens the dangers meth, and other drugs bring.

"Getting into their outlet, and it could be the Internet advertisement, and it has to be edgy. It's got to be ones that can communicate with a teenager, so it's a public awareness program," said Hutchinson.

Hutchinson hopes this plan will discourage use, decrease demand, and show the potentially deadly consequences of a drug abusing lifestyle.

Other parts of the plan include providing additional funding to state drug task force programs, working with Congress to fund a high intensity drug trafficking area designation in Arkansas, and increase information sharing and coordination, meaning greater coordination and cooperation between law enforcement agencies.  

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