While listening to Solomon Jones’ morning show on 900am WURD a day or two ago, he was going over the headlines and some program to help heroin addicts came up. Solomon acknowledged the significance of the effort but also offered up a statement that went something like this…

“Where was this type of compassion during the crack epidemic,” before suggesting how race appears to play a huge factor in the efforts to treat and combat heroin use compared to crack use.

It’s impossible to ignore the never ending articles in the Delaware County Daily Times reminding us of the heroin problem in the county and the untiring efforts to address it.

The latest wrinkle comes from the courts. Now, you have a chance to be rewarded a Get Out of Jail card and head straight for substance treatment. Apparently, someone must have just found that addicts who don’t get their fix after so many hours make for an uncomfortable setting in the jail house when they start jonesing. The heroin jones deserves more attention than the old crack jones.

As Solomon Jones says, it’s about time the authorities start showing some compassion toward addicts. It’s more than inhumane to allow anyone in need of drugs, prescribed or street, to suffer in a jail cell waiting for an arraignment.

Although it doesn’t single out heroin addicts, this new policy seems very likely to apply to them more than the person picked up for a bag of weed.

The program is tailored toward Delaware County defendants aged 18 to 25 who have been arrested for possession of drugs or some other minor offense arising out of drug addiction, such as minor theft.

I anticipate that weed won’t be considered an addicting drug and those guys won’t be offered treatment in lieu of bail.

Potential candidates are identified for the voluntary pilot program at the time of a bail interview so that magisterial district judges can divert offenders to immediate substance abuse treatment as a bail condition. Capuzzi said police officers familiar with suspects and the county prison in Concord can also recommend participants.

If you’re interested in how this program works, have a chat with your magistrate district judge or your local police officers.

Chances are, this program does not apply to all addicts.

p.s. Solomon Jones column is in the Philly Daily News and has written many urban fiction thrillers. One of his first, Pipe Dreams, was written from his experiences on the streets of North Philly as a crackhead. Although it’s fiction, the details can only be told by someone who experienced it. I think ‘Pipe Dreams’ is his best work.