For the residents of Miami County, which covers 404 square miles, it is a short trip down I-75 where they can work and play in Dayton and Montgomery County. It is also a short trip on the back roads for drug users who prefer to take their chances buying in Dayton because if they buy their heroin in Miami County, the cost is greatly increased.
There are twenty nine road officers in the Miami County Sheriff’s Department and they are seeing an increase in calls to locations where thefts have occurred to support the habit of the users in the county. According to Jail Administrator Lieutenant David Norman, “Bonnie is catching up to Clyde” where incarcerations related to drugs are concerned.
Norman is in charge of the prisoners kept both at the downtown Troy maximum security facility and the county’s minimum security California style facility located on State Route 25A not far from downtown. Currently the county is housing all of the female prisoners that they can hold at the downtown location with 15 additional inmates being housed in Shelby County until space is available to move them back to the local jails.
Recently I met with one of the incarcerated women in the downtown Troy facility while she is awaiting her turn in the court system for possession. According to Anise, this is not her first time as a guest of the taxpayers of Miami County.
As Anise began to tell her story, she had a very difficult time sitting still in her chair. We met in a room small enough to be a broom closet in most homes with just three chairs and a phone on the wall. During our time together this 30 year old mentioned numerous times how much she was hoping that she would get a call from her attorney or the courts to say that they had traveled to Montgomery County where she had “$500 in an account waiting to bail her out”.
Listening to Anise tell her story was like trying to follow a really bad plot for a made for TV movie. She talked about her four year old daughter and how she had been married but gave custody to her mother who is now raising the little girl. In the next sentence she is talking about her mother in-law being the reason she is currently incarcerated. In moments you understand that this is in fact her boyfriend’s mother and that she has been divorced from her husband who was an alcoholic and the first person to “shoot” her up.
Anise explains that she holds down two jobs even though she is a daily drug user. She works as a server in bars around the city and has been using drugs since she was 15 years old, never completing her high school education. She talks about being “straight” for two years while her husband was in prison but found a good friend to hang around with and he got her back on her drugs of choice.
As she explains her drug use, it is like listening to a pharmacist who is mixing up chemotherapy drugs for a cancer patient who needs specific amounts of each drug but in the case of Anise, it is so that she can get to work and “feel normal”. She reports that she is spending from $100 - $300 a day on her drug cocktail of Xanax, a drug used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, “girl” aka heroin in the morning to get started with her “normal feeling” and then “has to have her boy” aka cocaine at night. She tells me that she has a “sugar daddy”, but later admits she shouldn’t call him that, who “gives” her money every week. “He treats me like a daughter or something” she says but swears there is no sexual connection between them. She has known this “retired pilot” for six years now and he gives money to her and his son who also may have a drug habit without asking what they are doing with the money.
Driving is not something that Anise participates in any longer. She spent 11 months in jail for OVI and a domestic charge. She has been to jail four times already and expects to be sentenced to 6 months for her current possession charge. She tells the story of how she and her boyfriend took his 50 plus year old mother to Dayton to obtain drugs. The “mother in-law” overdosed and when she called for medical support for the woman, she and her boy friend were arrested for admitting they were in possession. The older woman was transported to a medical facility but not charged although Anise swears that “she had it in her pocket”.
As you follow the story, Anise continues to speak of her two “nieces” who she takes out to dinner using the money she receives from the over 50 year old male “friend”. When you ask more questions for clarification, you learn that these are actually two and eight year old girls who are her boy friend’s nieces. She swears that they never do drugs around the kids, but she admits she cannot get out of bed if she doesn’t do her drugs because the withdrawal symptoms keep her bedridden.
She goes on to describe how she has been “sick” since she arrived at the jail with severe flu like symptoms of aches and pains. She states that she gets severe diarrhea but doesn’t vomit as some do when going through withdrawal. In Miami County the nurse working in the jail facilities provides medications to help addicts with the symptoms associated with coming down from the drugs.
As we continue to talk about how the drugs have affected her body, Anise admits that she is shooting up in any vein that will work. She shows me deep crevices on her arms where using the needle has left a permanent scar. She also shows me her hands which are bruised from her knuckles up to her wrists showing colors of blue and purple. She admits that her hands hurt because coming off the drugs leaves her joints sore and she cannot take medication for the pain. It is as if she has fought off an attacker or punched her hands into a stone wall.
During our final few moments together we talk about what she plans to do if and when she is released back into society. By the time her sentence is up, she will once again be drug free, but she admits it will be difficult to not go back to using.
She talks about the dark places she travels to in Dayton to obtain her heroin. You can imagine a side street in the inner city where she talks about being the one to go into the house where her dealer holds the caps she needs for “normal” life. Her driver is her boy friend because she “never drives high”. She notes that they don’t use the interstate because it is too easy to get caught if you are high on your way back to Miami County. They normally wait to use until they are home, but if they aren’t at the methadone clinic, they might shoot up while in Dayton. She also tells the tales that are similar to a script where the dealers don’t trust her and put a gun to her head. She says that this is not unusual, but it is what happens when you need your “girl”.
Anise switches back to her hopes for the future talking about how she plans not to go back on drugs when she is released and getting as far away from the current connection to her boyfriend as she can. She also talks about going home to her mother and father and spending time with her daughter. She believes they will welcome her home, but they don’t come to visit and they don’t offer to pay her bail. She also talks about how a chain restaurant will have a job for her when she gets out and not understanding why her “boss” hasn’t come to bail her out because he respects her and needs her to work at the restaurant. She talks about meeting her ex-pilot friend at another chain restaurant and how he cried after his divorce and that is when they became so close. She is convinced that he will continue to shower her with money so that when she gets home, she will be able to continue her life.
I have no idea if the scenario she paints will truly happen with a drug free life, a home with her daughter and if a job at yet another family restaurant in Miami County will be possible. We end our conversation by agreeing that she is running out of chances to get her life together. At 30 she can easily become a statistic if she does go back to using and overdoses by mixing her drugs.
Chief Deputy Dave Duchak told me that the dealers in Dayton charge between $5 and $8 per cap for heroin. Lt Norman explained that the drug user is most at risk for overdose when they leave incarceration because they are not aware of the dosage their body will handle after being clean for some time. Duchak also explains that heroin use is ten times worse than the use of cocaine ever was. The failure to educate the public in the 1990’s to present day appears to be partly to blame for the increase in heroin use and the ignorance of the community.
Next week I will introduce you to Earl a 43 year old man who will be moving from his cell block on 25A to a State Prison for the next two years once his sentence is carried out.