I have no doubt that when Pete Doherty, the front-man of the English rock band Babyshambles was recently sentenced to 14 weeks in jail for drug offenses, most people shrugged their shoulders and thought the man’s a prick, he had his chances and failed to take them. Perhaps, but the State hardly comes up smelling of roses as it recognizes that drug addiction is a medical condition and those suffering from it need help, indeed the UK government pours millions of pounds into drug ‘treatment’ programs, most of which are little better than useless, but in the long run the governments only solution to problem drug users is to lock them up in jail.
Doherty has been sent to jail for what, taking drugs? Now come on, the man is an addict who lives a somewhat chaotic life style, it is thus hardly surprising he takes drugs and fails to keep appointments. [He was returned to court for sentence after failing to keep an appointment with the probation service]
Despite his addiction Doherty continued to work and as far as I can judge he is the only victim of the crime he was accused of committing. If this was simply about a rather silly pop star who has over indulged, it would be small beer, but it is not, as the UK’s criminal justices system and prisons are full of people who have committed minor drug offense not dissimilar to Pete Doherty. A few months ago I did Jury Service and three out of the four cases involved defendants who found themselves before the Crown Court due to their drug taking.
In one case a young man was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment after breaking a probation order. He had been before the courts on countless occasions for possession of class A drugs and petty shoplifting. It was patently obvious to all in the Court that the reason he had become a revolving door defendant was because of his drug addiction, a medical matter. Yet the judge had no alternative but to sentence him to a term of imprisonment due to the lack of alternatives and to be fair to him it was clear he did so with the utmost reluctance and displeasure, he simply had no alternative as the options which were available to him had been tried on the defendant in the past and failed. As far as the court was concerned, when all else fails, send the poor sod to jail.
So is there an alternative, of course, there is always an alternative, the most sensible option would be to legalize class A drugs, but as the politicians are so cowardly and the media so hateful there is not a hope in hells chance of this happening. Doherty’s erratic behavior is far from unique as it epitomizes that of many drug addicts, although not all by any means. It is clear he is not yet ready, or able to give up narcotics, and no matter what, he will continue to take them, so the best option would be for a doctor to provide him with a weekly prescription for the pharmaceutical narcotic which matches his needs.
Like any drug addict given a regular, and legal supply he could begin to lead a ‘normal’ life, one in which scoring drugs is not his overriding priority. There will be ups and downs but nothing to traumatic such as a prison sentence; and gradually he will come to see that there are more important things in life than scoring and taking narcotics; and in his own time he will hopefully take the matter from there, possibly by entering a treatment program that may see him emerge drug free. However if he never takes this final step, to the outside world he will have become Pete Doherty musician, for his drug taking will be controlled in much the same way a cigaret smoker controls his nicotine addiction, accept Mr Doherty will get his drug of choice from a chemist shop and not the local tobacconist or newsagent.
Of course this article is not only about Pete Doherty, but the tens of thousands of people who are class A drug addicts and whom the State treats in the most uncivilized and appalling manner by attempting to control the flow of illegal drugs by categorizing them; the main victims of illegal drugs as criminals.