Drugs in the Diocese: Comments on seriousness of situation by District Judge Jay Weatherby

Jay Weatherby, 340th District Court Judge in San Angelo, spoke at a meeting addressing the drug issue in San Angelo March 21. Here is the text of Weatherby’s comments:

   I know a lot of you and you go to bed with questions we are dealing with today and you still probably wake up with more questions than you have answers.
   I have a CPS docket, and when I started, we heard CPS cases on Thursday afternoon. Now it’s every day of the week, all day. That’s a 300 percent increase in the case load. First and foremost what I have realized after two and a half years on the bench is that public awareness is almost at zero. I think everyone in this room knows about meth particularly. But it’s amazing to me how few people understand how pervasive this problem is. Being on the bench gives me a unique perspective, seeing people I see from church, people I went to school with, close friends. Meth knows no economic barriers, no racial barriers, no gender barriers. It’s everybody. When I hear people talking about meth, it’s always, “those people,” “the druggies,” “the ones we’re not really concerned about anyway.” And it’s not … it’s all of us. And it breaks my heart every day. Because I get on the bench every day and I see someone I know and I see them and they’re totally different.
   I think we have to make people totally aware of that fact and if it doesn’t tug at their heartstrings I think we have to make people aware of the economic impact it’s had on us through the judicial system, through the prison system, the probation system, the foster care system. The young families  that are imploding on a daily basis; that’s a resource San Angelo cannot afford to lose. We have families that are just falling apart. We have to focus on a certain area. For the last several months I have removed at least two babies a week from the hospital that have been born with meth in their system. So even if we focus on kids, we have adults having babies, kids having babies. So public awareness has to be first and foremost.
   Number 2, we have to deal with treatment. We have a lot of meth moms, despite their involvement in church, the family gets involved, but we are losing them a month or two later. We have to take a person through the clean-up phase and then for about nine more months, where they can learn to live in the world without drugs.
   Thirdly, you begin to see the interconnectedness of all this. The same people keep showing up. You see the cycle, the problem. I get to talk to the parents and find out how they got to be where they are. At the root of a lot of this are mental illness issues, whether it be minor depression or whether it be something more substantial that leads to self-medication through alcohol and drugs, and to address that problem is going to require a lot of money, a lot of effort and a lot of people and a lot of time, but it’s one of those things that if we ever address it we can stop building prisons.
   We’ve got to make the public aware that we have to     address this at its most basic level and I think awareness is the first step and we go from there. And if I had the answer, I think whoever comes up with that answer will not only be made president but king, or queen.
   Public awareness, No. 1; long-term treatment options, No. 2,  and we can come together as a community on that, and No. 3, I think we’ve got to deal with the mental illness component that is underlying a lot of these issues.


1 Comment

Filed under Around the Diocese

One response to “Drugs in the Diocese: Comments on seriousness of situation by District Judge Jay Weatherby

  1. this is a great article. I knew Jat back in the day and he always had sound reasoning.

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