|By JOHN WORTHEN
Thirteenth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Robin J. Carroll
didn¹t mince words Wednesday while speaking to members
of the El Dorado Kiwanis Club about the illegal drug problem
in South Arkansas.
Carroll called the toll drugs are taking on communities here
"immeasurable", with countless lives, families and
young people¹s futures being ruined because of them.
"I think that this is one of the most serious issues that
we have in South Arkansas," Carroll said. "I think
that there is no other issue that is more pressing or should
concern you more than the illegal drug trade and the usage and
the lives that it ruins here."
Carroll praised the 13th Judicial District Drug Task force for
aiding in several major drug busts across South Arkansas in
recent weeks. In Cleveland County, 17 arrests were made as part
of a drug sweep last week, and there have been several large
busts in Ouachita County as well. Carroll said even more busts
are being planned in all counties served by the 13th Judicial
District Calhoun, Cleveland, Columbia, Dallas, Ouachita
Union County officials, working in cooperation with Carroll¹s
office, arrested 68 last week on drug related charges. Carroll
said that his office will give these cases high priority status,
meaning that they will move through the system swiftly with
one goal in mind: To seek prison terms for all repeat offenders
that were arrested.
Carroll added that last week¹s Union County operation was
highly effective in cleaning up the streets, according to reports
from drug officers he has spoken with.
"We had one of the narcotics officers come to my office
this week, and I loved what they said to me. They said you can¹t
even buy a Tic Tac on the street this week. I like to hear that."
While raids are a solid start in helping rid South Arkansas
of illegal drugs, more has to be done to prevent young people
from ever getting involved with them, Carroll said.
Carroll outlined several things he believes must change before
the drug problem is effectively dented; chief among them is
reaching out to young men who feel like they have hopeless futures.
He said that many young men have trouble seeing themselves in
high paying jobs, so they turn to a life of drugs, where easy,
quick money is just a deal or two away.
"Imagine a kid who sits in a poor neighborhood, and he¹s
there and he sees his cousin or big brother selling drugs and
driving a big, nice, new car," Carroll said. "Now
you are faced with that choice and that life and having those
things, or working at a fast food restaurant for minimum
wage. What do you think most of these kids are gonna do?"
Carroll said that it¹s up to each individual community
in South Arkansas to step forward and "give these kids
a better choice for the future, and more hope for the future,
otherwise it¹s not gonna change."
Another priority is beefing up funding for drug treatment
programs. Carroll said that the drug court has been a resounding
success in recent years by reducing the number of people who
are incarcerated, as well as helping addicts clean up their
And since treating someone in drug court runs at least one
fourth the cost of incarcerating them, it¹s an attractive
alternative to officials in the fiscally stressed legal system.
"The (drug) court has been a fantastic success,"
Carroll said. "If we can treat them and let them get
back out into society, then I think we have done a good thing."
One other good thing is the addition of a community outreach
director to the prosecutor's office, Carroll said. Glenn Glover
was hired in February to "put a face to the prosecutor¹s
office "and to act as a bridge between law
enforcement and Carroll.
Since taking the job in February, Glover has significantly
contributed to the prosecutor¹s office by researching
sex offenders' addresses and measuring their proximity to
schools, churches and daycares using Google's online mapping
During his research, Glover found that 28 sex offenders in
the six counties served by the 13th Judicial District lived
within 2,000 feet of a church, school or daycare, which is
prohibited by Arkansas law. The names of these individuals
were immediately turned over to local law enforcement officials,
In closing, Carroll told Kiwanis members that in the last
six months, race relations in Union County have been "as
good as they have been in the history of the county."
He cited recent meetings at Immanuel Baptist Church and at
the East Unit of the Boys and Girls Club as evidence.
"They were big meetings and were very positive,"
Carroll said. "It seems like everyone is getting on the
same page. And I think the whole community should take credit
More information about the 13th Judicial District Prosecuting
Attorney's Office is available by logging on to http://www.arkprosecutor13.com