Penalties, Pitfalls, Prison

Gurudeva continues talking with Sannyasin Arumugaswami about the penalties for drug use and sale, a felony, leading to jail. A felony is defined and the consequences of being convicted described. Tough Love but Gurudeva doesn't want us to become incarcerated. Undercover agents and the realistic facts surrounding the drug culture, pitfalls, and the role the police takes are described. The Crime Stoppers Program on the Garden island of Kauai is outlined which includes strip search, and being placed in an 8X11 cell with two other inmates. Gurudeva says you can buy some of these drugs and get free room and board but that this is not a very good deal. The mental degeneration of the drug abuser is described: "I've never seen a brilliant drug user." Hard facts about the price of using drugs monetary and otherwise are put forward by Swami and Gurudeva responds. Gurudeva says, a big price to pay for running down the drain and gives words of advice and explaining that the drug user has imprisoned himself.

Unedited Transcript:

Today at Kauai Adheenam, November 8th. Welcome to Cyberspace Ashram and this very interesting topic - 'Drugs and the penalties invoked by law, for the

use of drugs'.

A lot of questions that you will enjoy the answers for. We are going to ask

Sannyasin Arumugaswami to recount an interview with Lieutenant Larry Rosa of

the Kauai Police Department. Arumugaswamiji, what did Larry Rosa have to say

in answer to some of these questions people have been asking?

Arumugaswami: Lieutenant Larry Rosa is a Vice Squad Officer, with all of the

adult violations of the drug realm. We have inquired of him the penalties

for drug use. The most important one of which is that if you sell drugs in

any quantity to anybody for any price or even give them away, you are

necessarily committing a felony, and if you commit that felony on the island

of Kauai, you will definitely go to jail.

Gurudeva: Maybe you could explain for all our ashram visitors in our

cyberspace ashram, just what a felony is.

Arumugaswami: Well, a felony is a serious crime as opposed to a misdemeanor.

It is one that remains on your record through your entire life. If you are a

convicted felon, you no longer have the right to vote. If you apply for a

job, you are required to disclose this information that you have a felony

conviction. Especially if you want a job with the government, in which case

you probably won't get it, because of that conviction. Sentencing for a

felony can range from a year or two years in jail up to twenty years, in the

drug realm.

Gurudeva: This means that for a little seeming happiness, you get a lot of

long term unhappiness. A lot of privileges taken away.

Arumugaswami: One thing that Neil Wakatsuma, the warden at Kauai County

Community Correctional Center told us was that, "It used to be that you

could get a lesser sentence for drugs if you were a more well-to-do

citizen." If you, for example, produced letters of recommendation from

prominent people in the community, then you might get off easier. Well, it

seems that the current judge doesn't go for that argument. Whoever you are,

if you are dealing drugs, your going to jail.

Gurudeva: Well, our current honorable judge takes his job very seriously. Be

very careful if you come to the island of Kauai. Leave all these substances

behind. We don't want them here. This is tough love, because we love you and

we see God inside each and every one of you. So we don't want your outside

self incarcerated in the county of Kauai, on this beautiful garden island.

The county can't afford it. We want the island to be drug-free. This means

we don't do this here.

Arumugaswami: We asked Lieutenant Rosa what would happen if they got a tip

about someone who was dealing drugs. He said, that the best thing they had

was what they called a 'buy/bust', where they try to set the person up to

sell an undercover agent some drugs. Preferably, at the man's home or in his

car. The reason they do that is that if they can successfully buy the drugs

from the man at his home, they could then seize his home, under the

drug/seizure laws. But what they will try to do then after they make the

arrest is, to make a deal with them to get to the pusher that he got the

drugs from, and so on back the line. If he does do that, then he might get a

lesser sentence, otherwise he will get the book thrown at him.

Gurudeva: I understand Sannyasin Arumugaswami that there is also another

way. People are also afraid of retaliation, if they report somebody. But,

the County Police Department has established an anonymous line. You can call

in, not leave your name, and make a report. Now we are going to get that

number out of the phone book, and later on in this interview, Arumugaswami

is going to tell you what it is.

Arumugaswami: Yes Gurudeva, it's the 'Crime Stoppers' program. It works very

well. They recently caught somebody at one of the schools with US$ 300 on

them for the purpose of a drug buy, and some drugs on them also. They were

able to make an arrest in that case. Now if you are arrested, what happens

to you is that you are again, as an adult, handcuffed, and searched for

weapons. You are taken to the station, booked, fingerprinted and

photographed. You may get bail, depending on the crime. If you don't get

bail, then your taken over to the jail. At the jail, you are strip-searched.

You are given different clothes, a few amenities and put in cell. Within a

few days, depending upon your attitude, you are either left in a cell that

is approximately 8 by 10 or 11 feet, with two other in-mates. That is three,

on a 23-hour lock down. That means, you are only out of the cell for 1 hour

a day. Or, if you are going to make a serious attempt to change your life,

the warden may admit you to one of the dormitory programs where there is a

very strict regimen throughout the day of training, discipline, classes,

work, etc...

Gurudeva: So, it means that you can buy some of these drugs, and get free

room and board, with two other people, in a very small cell. That is not a

very good investment. Let us sharpen up. Let us get smart. It is not cool to

take drugs, it can be very hot.

Arumugaswami: We asked Lieutenant Rosa if their was much difference on the

economic level of the people that they were arresting for drugs and he said

there is not. The poorer people are being arrested, the richer people are

being arrested. They have arrested children from the best families on the

island. When it comes to drugs, it doesn't seem that economic status is much

of a factor. We asked him about the effect of drugs upon people.

He said, "The degeneration of the drug user is very apparent. I can see

these people have short attention spans. They have mood swings; they are

forgetful. They just are no longer what they used to be. I've never seen a

brilliant drug-user". He believes that one of the motivating factors in the

drugs is that when they take that first 'hit' off of 'ice' or the first hit

of cocaine, they get this tremendous feeling of euphoria. They want to get

back to that feeling, but they never do; it's never the same after that.

They keep trying to take bigger doses and so on to get back to it, but they

can't do it.

We asked him about the price of the drugs. He said that methamphetamine, a

single paper-as it's called, sells for $50. That is for a tenth of a gram,

for one 'hit'. If you are buying a gram of it, it is $400 or $500. One of

the ladies we talked to at the jail was spending $2000 a week, on

methamphetamines and other drugs. To get this kind of money, according to

Lieutenant Rosa, the people had to resort to burglary, to theft, anything,

stealing from their parents if they were youth. He said that in most cases

they ended up dealing, because that is the only way they could get enough

money, to support their own habit. To give you an idea of what that is,

heroin costs $60 for a 'hit', cocaine can run from $1400 to $2400, for an

ounce. At the time we asked him this, he had just got the most recent price

list for drugs and was reading it to us. 'Good' marijuana costs $2000 to

$3000 a pound. A single joint, $2 or $3.

Gurudeva: So, it appears you have to have a lot of money to be illegal, to

be a criminal these days.

Arumugaswami: We asked Lieutenant for his advice. He said, that he was

actually not too very optimistic about people getting off of drugs. He had

seen a lot of people like it. He didn't see a lot of people get off of it.

He said that the best thing that you can do is try to convince the person to

get some professional help. It is like an alcoholic. You have never seen an

alcoholic admit he's an alcoholic, until he had been a part of 'Alcoholics

Anonymous' or a similar program. It is denial. They'll say, "I'm just using

this for recreation". They will say that even if they are spending $700 a

day on drugs, it is just for recreation. The family can help if they can get

them to clergy, if they can get them to counseling. Sometimes, the spouses

will turn in their husband or wife, usually because of their potential for

violence, or real violence. Or, the wife is afraid that the house will be

seized over the drug/seizure laws. One woman recently turned in her husband

after he put a shotgun to her head and threatened her. So, this is what the

drugs lead to.

We also asked him about organized crime. It is obvious that these drugs are

distributed internationally by organized crime.

He said, "Well, yes. You cannot open up shop on the island without the

blessings of organized crime. They take about sixty percent of proceeds of

all these drug sales."

Gurudeva: Well, it is a big price to pay even if the family treated the

person badly. Many families beat their children and call it discipline. It

is a big price to pay to go down the drain, to a place like that which is

being run here, on Kauai. It's not a five star hotel, I can tell you that.

You wouldn't want to live there. So, clear out the drugs out from your

house, reform your thinking about it. It is not cool. The reaction to the

action of breaking the law can be very rough on your nerve system. You are

in prison right now because if you are using illegal drugs of any kind, your

always looking over your shoulder and worrying about being caught. Admit it,

it is true. So, you have imprisoned yourself, in an even smaller cell.

Photo of  Gurudeva
There is no intrinsic evil. God Siva has created the principle of opposites, which are the means for the soul's maturation--beauty and deformity, light and darkness, love and hate, joy and sorrow.