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Punishment Does Not Work For Addiction

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Posted On: November 09, 2002          Updated On: November 10, 2002
© Terence T. Gorski, 2001

Punishment doesn't work for people who are sufferring from addiction and mental health problems.  Those who continue to use this well intentioned but misguided solution are guilty of practicing Get Tough - Be Dumb politics by using punishment approaches that don't work.  Examples of the the horrendous failures of the Get Tough Be Dumb punishment-oriented polices to non-violent alcohol and drug offenders are not hard to find.  Hopefully awareness of these failures in public policy will prompt our political leadership to consider an approach that works - a Public Health Addiction Policy.  

Punishment Does Not Work 
For People With Addiction & Mental Health Problems

The Story of Dennis Sevon

Below is a story of a man named Dennis T. Sevon who was arrested for burglary in Spring Hill, Florida <Read Story>.  Sevon has a long history of alcohol-related non-violent crimes which date back to 1990 .  The courts tried just about every form of punishment ranging from probation, to home detention, to imprisonment.  They tried just about everything except the one thing that would have worked, referring Mr. Devon for treatment for his alcoholism.  

Even at this late stage in Mr. Sevon's alcoholism, the odds are at least fifty-fifty that he could come become a sober and employed citizen after receiving about $10,000 worth of treatment over a period of two years.  The state has already spent over $75,000 punishing the man and it hasn't worked.   Maybe our get tough policy should also get smart and start trying something that works.  

The Story of the Galloway Brothers

Below is also a story about the the Galloway Brothers. <Read Story>  Brothers Paul D. Galloway, 18 and Matthew A. Galloway, 16, were  arrested Sept. 5, 2002.  A mother had called 911 when she saw the two boys talking on a telephone that her son had passed to them outside of his bedroom window.  One of the boys was holding a gun.  When the police arrived the boys were found hiding in the bushes and were arrested without incident.

The police found two guns nearby which the Galloway brothers told the police they had stolen from an unoccupied home near by.  They were calling another friend they knew to see if they could trade the weapons for drugs.  When deputies checked the house where the pistols had been stolen, the owner wasn't home and wasn't aware that he had been burglarized.

For this fiasco, Paul Galloway faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years under Florida's "10 - 20 -Life policy" if convicted.  This would cost the state over $250,000, destroy any chance of Paul Galloway having the life of a productive citizen, and probably create an angry and bitter criminal recidivist with an untreated drug problem.  

The public defender wants an alternative sentence involving drug treatment which would cost the state about $10,000 over two years and have a seventy percent chance of returning Galloway to the community as a productive citizen.

The decision is currently in the hands of Judge Tombrink.  Let's hope he makes the right and the sensible decision.

Matthew Galloway was arrested on charges of armed residential burglary and grand theft. He was lodged in the juvenile detention facility in Ocala, pending juvenile court action.  The juvenile court will face a similar decision - punishment (get tough be dumb) or court supervised treatment (get tough be smart).  

Public Health Addiction Policy

Our nation, states, and counties are condemned to spend billions of dollars on futilely trying to punish addicted and mentally ill people.  Its a failed strategy that has not, cannot, and will not work.  But we keep trying in the vain belief that getting tough on people with addiction and mental illness will somehow solve a difficult health care policy.

The solution is clear and proven - adopt a Public Health Addiction Policy that coordinates treatment of addicted and mentally ill people with the criminal justice program through drug and mental health courts.

Nov 8, 2002

Awakened, woman finds suspect in her home


SPRING HILL - At 9 a.m. Thursday, Beverly Ann Earle was asleep in the family room of her home at 11323 Dean St. Her sick 18-month old son, Nolan, was asleep at her side.

Earle ignored the doorbell when it ran and just turned over. Several minutes later, she heard a rustling in the living room.

The woman got up to find a man going through her belongings in a cedar chest.

"Who are you and what are you doing?" she asked him.

"I'm sorry ma'am, I didn't know anyone was home," he replied. "I'm just a man looking for money and alcohol."

Earle told him to get out and he fled through the front door. She called 911 and Dennis T. Sevon was apprehended by deputies a short distance from her home.

During questioning, Sevon, 30, admitted breaking into Earle's home through a garage door. He also showed deputies three other homes he recently broke into and robbed.

Sevon was released from state prison in April. He served most of a three-year sentence in his 2000 conviction for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Sevon's criminal record goes back farther. In 1990, he was convicted of misdemeanor trespass and served three months probation. In 1992, he was convicted of two counts of felony burglary and petty theft and sentenced to three years of probation.

Six months later, he was found guilty of violating probation and it was converted into two years of house arrest.

Sevon violated house arrest and was ordered to serve six months in the county jail.

In 1993, he pleaded no contest to a concealed weapon charge.

The defendant was arrested in 2000 and sentenced to serve three years in prison.

Thursday, he told deputies that during the past several weeks he has robbed homes on Landover Boulevard, Berrien Avenue and Baylor Drive, in addition to Earle's home.

Sevon said he took trading cards, cologne, a razor, a CD player, jewelry and small amounts of cash. He said he pawned many of the items for cash to buy alcohol.

Sevon, of 5375 Berrien Ave., Spring Hill, was lodged in the Hernando County Jail on $20,000 bail on three counts of burglary and one count of burglary of an occupied home.

This story can be found at:

Nov 8, 2002

Teen wants treatment as youthful offender


BYSTRE LAKE - An 18-year-old hopes he can convince a judge to sentence him as a youthful offender, avoid a mandatory prison sentence and undergo drug rehabilitation.

Assistant Public Defender Devon Sharkey outlined this strategy in court Wednesday in asking for another month's delay in his client's trial.

Paul D. Galloway faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years if convicted of armed burglary, grand theft, possession of a concealed firearm, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Sharkey said that he hopes he can get Galloway, 7332 Clayton Road, Bystre Lake, a sentence less than that mandated by the state's 10-20-life law.

"The incident that led to these charges was drug-related and we believe that is the cause of my client's problems," Sharkey said.

State Circuit Court Judge Richard Tombrink Jr. said he wouldn't promise a "downward departure" if Galloway pleads guilty, but agreed to let Sharkey have another month to see if a drug treatment program would accept Galloway.

The teenager was arrested Sept. 5 after a woman found him using her telephone to contact a drug dealer. She said the phone had been handed out of her son's bedroom window to Galloway and another teenager.

The woman's husband spotted the two young men at the corner of their house. He said one had a silver pistol in his hand.

The homeowner called 911, afraid these two were about to attack his family.

Deputy Derik Deso was the first to respond and said he found the two men outside of the home, trying to hide. One was crouching behind a bush and the other was lying next to a pile of building materials.

Deso handcuffed both for his protection since one of them had a pistol which he found stuffed into one of the men's pants. The deputy later found a second pistol hidden in the building debris.

During questioning of the two men, here's what Deso said he learned:

Brothers Paul D. Galloway, 18 and Matthew A. Galloway, 16, had gone to an unoccupied home near their home where they knew guns were kept. They found the two pistols hidden under a mattress and said they wanted to call someone they knew to trade the weapons for drugs.

When deputies checked the house where the pistols had been stolen, the owner wasn't home and wasn't aware that he had been burglarized.
Matthew Galloway was arrested on charges of armed residential burglary and grand theft. He was lodged in the juvenile detention facility in Ocala, pending juvenile court action.

This story can be found at:


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