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Revise law so company can help drug courts

There are many people in this world who say "no" when asked to consider new ways of doing things. Far fewer are willing to take a risk and say "Yes, let's get creative and fix some big problems." As we have all experienced, you don't get in trouble when following rules (even when they get in the way of progress).

​As a retired entrepreneur who volunteers in prisons and sees various ways we are attempting to deal with addictions and recidivism, I read with dismay about a judge's verdict to stop a program supported by the Arkansas Drug Courts and Hendren Plastics of Gravette. ​As I see it, Hendren is among a small group of creative problem-solvers around the country who are attempting to engage the free enterprise system to address an issue that overwhelms our society -- recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

The solution ​they have​ been using is a nontraditional business/financial model that has been a "win-win-win" for all affected parties where it has been used. The model enables addicts to pay for their own treatment, room, board and transportation by working instead of languishing in jail or prison. It was endorsed by the Arkansas Drug Courts, which asked Hendren Plastics to participate.

Unfortunately, while attempting to bring this unique, entrepreneurial solution to a worsening problem, the model has just been slapped down by a local federal judge. While the judge may be following what he believes to be the letter of the law (the ruling will be appealed), the effect will be to kill an innovative program while increasing economic and societal costs to already fully burdened Arkansas taxpayers.

As the president of Hendren Plastics said in response to the judge's ruling (and I agree): "I continue to believe that rehabilitation and recovery efforts are preferable to filling our prisons with nonviolent drug and alcohol offenders. Rather than obtaining help recovering from addictions as well as workforce training and employment opportunities, this ruling will ensure offenders will fill our already full prisons and jails where they will be far more likely to become career criminals. I do not regret trying to help when asked by Arkansas Drug Courts to assist people wanting to turn their lives around."

It is timely for the Legislature and governor to work with the Arkansas Drug Courts and Arkansas businesses to address restrictive laws that currently get in the way of creative solutions for helping our citizens with addictions. If these restrictions and the business/financial model were thoughtfully modified, Arkansas could lead the nation on a path that would materially mitigate its overwhelming addiction, incarceration, recidivism and financial crisis.

Jim Shankle


No offense taken by request for veterans to show proof

With Veterans Day next month, this Vietnam veteran certainly says "thank you" to every business establishment that recognizes us. Having said that, I would like to comment that while shopping at a pet supply store, and wearing a Vietnam hat, the cashier thanked me for my service then asked for some veterans identification. My Veterans Affairs card sufficed, but I also decided to carry a copy of my DD214 [separation documents] also.

A major lumber/hardware store also offers a veterans discount and the cashier's computer asks for a form of identification.

My point is thus: Anyone can buy a ball cap and get by being called a veteran and, for a fact, I have seen this happen over years in local restaurants. In fact, last year you could buy one outside of Sam's Club and the local Casey's in Bella Vista.

With all due respect, no restaurant or business can offend me by asking for identification beyond the veterans hat I wear on occasion. I am offended, however, when veteran wannabes try to receive something for nothing simply by wearing a hat and not being challenged. All veterans have a DD214. This year, please take a moment and ask to see a form proving a person is actually a veteran.

I will sign off simply by stating I earned the status to wear a Vietnam veterans hat.

Carl Heffner

Bella Vista

NW News on 10/09/2019

Print Headline: NWA Letters to the Editor

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