District Prosecutor speaks on illegal drug problem
(From the June 21, 2007 story in the El Dorado News-Times
)

By JOHN WORTHEN
News-Times Staff
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 and Union.
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 think when

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 lives.
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 system.
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, Carroll said.
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 for this."
More information about the 13th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney's Office is available by logging on to http://www.arkprosecutor13.com