Today at Kauai Adheenam, November 8th. Welcome to Cyberspace Ashram and this very interesting topic – ‘Drugs and the penalties invoked by law, for the
use of drugs’.
A lot of questions that you will enjoy the answers for. We are going to ask
Sannyasin Arumugaswami to recount an interview with Lieutenant Larry Rosa of
the Kauai Police Department. Arumugaswamiji, what did Larry Rosa have to say
in answer to some of these questions people have been asking?
Arumugaswami: Lieutenant Larry Rosa is a Vice Squad Officer, with all of the
adult violations of the drug realm. We have inquired of him the penalties
for drug use. The most important one of which is that if you sell drugs in
any quantity to anybody for any price or even give them away, you are
necessarily committing a felony, and if you commit that felony on the island
of Kauai, you will definitely go to jail.
Gurudeva: Maybe you could explain for all our ashram visitors in our
cyberspace ashram, just what a felony is.
Arumugaswami: Well, a felony is a serious crime as opposed to a misdemeanor.
It is one that remains on your record through your entire life. If you are a
convicted felon, you no longer have the right to vote. If you apply for a
job, you are required to disclose this information that you have a felony
conviction. Especially if you want a job with the government, in which case
you probably won’t get it, because of that conviction. Sentencing for a
felony can range from a year or two years in jail up to twenty years, in the
Gurudeva: This means that for a little seeming happiness, you get a lot of
long term unhappiness. A lot of privileges taken away.
Arumugaswami: One thing that Neil Wakatsuma, the warden at Kauai County
Community Correctional Center told us was that, “It used to be that you
could get a lesser sentence for drugs if you were a more well-to-do
citizen.” If you, for example, produced letters of recommendation from
prominent people in the community, then you might get off easier. Well, it
seems that the current judge doesn’t go for that argument. Whoever you are,
if you are dealing drugs, your going to jail.
Gurudeva: Well, our current honorable judge takes his job very seriously. Be
very careful if you come to the island of Kauai. Leave all these substances
behind. We don’t want them here. This is tough love, because we love you and
we see God inside each and every one of you. So we don’t want your outside
self incarcerated in the county of Kauai, on this beautiful garden island.
The county can’t afford it. We want the island to be drug-free. This means
we don’t do this here.
Arumugaswami: We asked Lieutenant Rosa what would happen if they got a tip
about someone who was dealing drugs. He said, that the best thing they had
was what they called a ‘buy/bust’, where they try to set the person up to
sell an undercover agent some drugs. Preferably, at the man’s home or in his
car. The reason they do that is that if they can successfully buy the drugs
from the man at his home, they could then seize his home, under the
drug/seizure laws. But what they will try to do then after they make the
arrest is, to make a deal with them to get to the pusher that he got the
drugs from, and so on back the line. If he does do that, then he might get a
lesser sentence, otherwise he will get the book thrown at him.
Gurudeva: I understand Sannyasin Arumugaswami that there is also another
way. People are also afraid of retaliation, if they report somebody. But,
the County Police Department has established an anonymous line. You can call
in, not leave your name, and make a report. Now we are going to get that
number out of the phone book, and later on in this interview, Arumugaswami
is going to tell you what it is.
Arumugaswami: Yes Gurudeva, it’s the ‘Crime Stoppers’ program. It works very
well. They recently caught somebody at one of the schools with US$ 300 on
them for the purpose of a drug buy, and some drugs on them also. They were
able to make an arrest in that case. Now if you are arrested, what happens
to you is that you are again, as an adult, handcuffed, and searched for
weapons. You are taken to the station, booked, fingerprinted and
photographed. You may get bail, depending on the crime. If you don’t get
bail, then your taken over to the jail. At the jail, you are strip-searched.
You are given different clothes, a few amenities and put in cell. Within a
few days, depending upon your attitude, you are either left in a cell that
is approximately 8 by 10 or 11 feet, with two other in-mates. That is three,
on a 23-hour lock down. That means, you are only out of the cell for 1 hour
a day. Or, if you are going to make a serious attempt to change your life,
the warden may admit you to one of the dormitory programs where there is a
very strict regimen throughout the day of training, discipline, classes,
Gurudeva: So, it means that you can buy some of these drugs, and get free
room and board, with two other people, in a very small cell. That is not a
very good investment. Let us sharpen up. Let us get smart. It is not cool to
take drugs, it can be very hot.
Arumugaswami: We asked Lieutenant Rosa if their was much difference on the
economic level of the people that they were arresting for drugs and he said
there is not. The poorer people are being arrested, the richer people are
being arrested. They have arrested children from the best families on the
island. When it comes to drugs, it doesn’t seem that economic status is much
of a factor. We asked him about the effect of drugs upon people.
He said, “The degeneration of the drug user is very apparent. I can see
these people have short attention spans. They have mood swings; they are
forgetful. They just are no longer what they used to be. I’ve never seen a
brilliant drug-user”. He believes that one of the motivating factors in the
drugs is that when they take that first ‘hit’ off of ‘ice’ or the first hit
of cocaine, they get this tremendous feeling of euphoria. They want to get
back to that feeling, but they never do; it’s never the same after that.
They keep trying to take bigger doses and so on to get back to it, but they
can’t do it.
We asked him about the price of the drugs. He said that methamphetamine, a
single paper-as it’s called, sells for $50. That is for a tenth of a gram,
for one ‘hit’. If you are buying a gram of it, it is $400 or $500. One of
the ladies we talked to at the jail was spending $2000 a week, on
methamphetamines and other drugs. To get this kind of money, according to
Lieutenant Rosa, the people had to resort to burglary, to theft, anything,
stealing from their parents if they were youth. He said that in most cases
they ended up dealing, because that is the only way they could get enough
money, to support their own habit. To give you an idea of what that is,
heroin costs $60 for a ‘hit’, cocaine can run from $1400 to $2400, for an
ounce. At the time we asked him this, he had just got the most recent price
list for drugs and was reading it to us. ‘Good’ marijuana costs $2000 to
$3000 a pound. A single joint, $2 or $3.
Gurudeva: So, it appears you have to have a lot of money to be illegal, to
be a criminal these days.
Arumugaswami: We asked Lieutenant for his advice. He said, that he was
actually not too very optimistic about people getting off of drugs. He had
seen a lot of people like it. He didn’t see a lot of people get off of it.
He said that the best thing that you can do is try to convince the person to
get some professional help. It is like an alcoholic. You have never seen an
alcoholic admit he’s an alcoholic, until he had been a part of ‘Alcoholics
Anonymous’ or a similar program. It is denial. They’ll say, “I’m just using
this for recreation”. They will say that even if they are spending $700 a
day on drugs, it is just for recreation. The family can help if they can get
them to clergy, if they can get them to counseling. Sometimes, the spouses
will turn in their husband or wife, usually because of their potential for
violence, or real violence. Or, the wife is afraid that the house will be
seized over the drug/seizure laws. One woman recently turned in her husband
after he put a shotgun to her head and threatened her. So, this is what the
drugs lead to.
We also asked him about organized crime. It is obvious that these drugs are
distributed internationally by organized crime.
He said, “Well, yes. You cannot open up shop on the island without the
blessings of organized crime. They take about sixty percent of proceeds of
all these drug sales.”
Gurudeva: Well, it is a big price to pay even if the family treated the
person badly. Many families beat their children and call it discipline. It
is a big price to pay to go down the drain, to a place like that which is
being run here, on Kauai. It’s not a five star hotel, I can tell you that.
You wouldn’t want to live there. So, clear out the drugs out from your
house, reform your thinking about it. It is not cool. The reaction to the
action of breaking the law can be very rough on your nerve system. You are
in prison right now because if you are using illegal drugs of any kind, your
always looking over your shoulder and worrying about being caught. Admit it,
it is true. So, you have imprisoned yourself, in an even smaller cell.