I want to tell you a story. A true story, that happened to me, in my home. This is the indicator of why there are six times more black men locked up for decades when white men go free for the same crime. This goes against what many white people believe – black men commit more crimes. They are dangerous and we need to lock them up for everyone’s safety. That is a load of bull that gives racist people excuses for their behavior. White people are just as prone to criminal behavior as any other race.
Earlier this year I noticed a problem in my house. Prescription narcotic pills were disappearing out of my pill bottle. I take methadone for problems with my spine. I don’t need to go into detail of that illness. You only need to know that methadone is something I have taken for about ten years. It allows me to get out of bed and have a fairly normal life.
For several months I noticed I was running short at the end of the month which caused me need to severely ration what I had left. I thought to myself, was I taking more than I should? Did I take double doses not remembering I already had taken it? Since I had been taking this medication for a long time it didn’t seem rational that right now I would lose count and take more for three months in a row. I knew exactly what I took. I’m not that careless. But still every month I was short and needed to refill my prescription one week early which is the soonest insurance would allow.
After three months of this I gave the pill bottle to my husband to hold for me so I would have to go to him for my morning and evening dose. He kept the bottle in his computer room sitting by the keyboard. Every morning he saw what I took. The fourth month, a week after I filled my prescription for 60 pills I decided to count them. The bottle was 30 pills short. I flipped. We argued and accused each other of wrong doing. Now, my husband I know each other very well and I know he wouldn’t touch that bottle, yet I accused him of taking them and he accused me of sneaking in and taking more and not remembering I did it. Doors slammed and harsh words were exchanged. We stopped and looked at each other when we realized what we were accusing each other of doing and apologized to each other. We were not the guilty party. Someone else was taking the pills, but who?
I first thought maybe it was the pharmacy who short changed me because the last bottle I had exactly half of what I should have. Now i know that wouldn’t count for all the other monthly shortages but I thought it worth taking the time to go talk to the pharmacist. He explained that all narcotics were counted by three different people to make sure the count was correct so if the pharmacy did it then all three people would have to be in on it, and that didn’t make sense.
Something else was happening in the house. We started having plumbing leaks. Slow leaks, under the kitchen sink and then under the bathroom sink, and then the sprayer hose at the sink malfunctioned. The faucet in the bathroom needed repairing. We were called in work orders to the main office of the housing community we lived in. Small maintenance problems that were not out of the ordinary. There were only two people who come into our house and it not be suspect; the maintenance men who worked for the complex. But which one? We had made good friends with a man in his forties who came over to our place fairly frequently. His family had a farm. They butchered a pig and over time he brought me several three pound blocks of scrapple, ham steaks, packages of chicken breasts, pork sausage and canned products his wife made. He even brought me a brand new canner because I told him I wanted to try canning. He was always dropping off some goodie. He was so nice to us. We enjoyed his company. Everyone one in the community loved this guy. He also knew about my medical problems. We had known him about four years. We thought, it couldn’t be him. He would never do that. So we waited and watched. I started counting my pills when we left the house.
He knew every Tuesday I went to the hospital for a procedure I needed to have done. The appointment time was the same every week. Whenever we had to put in a work order we noticed the maintenance golf cart he was driving to get around the property would head to our house every time we drove out. The stealing of the pills was now happening every week like clockwork, if we had a work order or not. He always waved to us as we left. No one in the community would think it strange to see the maintenance cart outside anyone’s home, and this man had a master key to get into any door. There was a second maintenance man who was fairly new on the job and still being trained. He knew nothing about my life or the fact that I was taking different medications because of a liver transplant.
Our guess wouldn’t mean anything without proof. I filed a police report because by now I had to fill prescriptions my insurance wouldn’t take because they weren’t due and I needed to pay cash. I had a few extra prescription I never filled, keeping them in case I needed them. For me it was like insurance. If you ever took pain pills for an extended period of time you know that taking them is a double edged sword. It eases the pain but they are addicting.
No pharmacist would fill the prescription without questioning it, so I needed to tell him what was going on and tell him about the police report. The maintenance had no clue what was going on although why, since this was a narcotic did he not think I would notice that half my pills were disappearing. Did he not think I maybe needed this pills? We kept of the pretense of pills, and bought cameras to place in the home.
We placed one camera that would see him coming in and one camera in my bedroom. On this day we had an actual work order because of a leak under the sink. We notice he didn’t use his key to come in through the front door but instead came in by lifting our garage door, which wasn’t locked. We saw him go into the kitchen, open the cabinet door under the sink and turned something. He then closed the door and walked into the bedroom. Unfortunately the camera in the bedroom malfunctioned and didn’t record. We needed a better quality camera. On the dining room table her left his work order that listed what he did in the kitchen. It didn’t match anything we saw.
The next morning he showed up at our door with another package of boneless chicken breasts and told us in detail about the part he replaced and how he checked it. He said he let the water run for several minutes to make sure it was no longer leaking. He did none of that. Because I left a certain amount of pills in the bottle before we left, and took a picture of the night table, and another picture when we returned we knew exactly what he took and what he touched. He tried to put things back where they were but it was not exactly perfect. So we knew for sure. But still, we needed to catch him red handed, so we needed to order another camera and set it up to catch everything he did in that room.
We bought a better camera for the bedroom and waiting until the following week. The camera showed him coming into my bedroom and staring at my pill bottles. he went back and forth to the window to see if anyone could see him inside. he opened my closet door, my desk, and looked behind books on the shelf. He never found the camera peeking out through books on the other side of the room. He went back to the pills and picked up each bottle and put it back until he found the one he wanted. When bottle previously that was short when it was sitting in another room means he went looking for the bottle. He opened the bottle by my bed and dumped a handfull of pills into his hand and counted them. Then he dumped a few more out, closed it and put it back. Then he became concerned that things weren’t put back right and tried to arrange them perfectly, He readjusted my closet doors and then swiped his foot along the carpet as he backed out in fear that he might have left a foot print.
When we viewed the recording we were chocked at the detail he went into and also that he was looking through the bedroom. For what reason? We called the police who came and viewed the CD we made and went to the main office, found the man, and escorted him off the property.
Now – here’s the crux of this story. What happened to this man? Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. With all the evidence, the police pressed no charges. Breaking and entering, every time he came into my house to set up the next work order and steal some pills, also equals theft. Stealing narcotics is another charge. That alone is three charges. And wasn’t he bonded by the company since he was entering residences? I guess these weren’t crimes for him. He was a long time upstanding Christian resident of the community. did he at least get sent to rehab? Supposedly he got hooked on pain pills after a knee surgery. The police also told me we weren’t the only people from this housing community to call about missing pills. If there were two of us there had to be more. \I live in a retirement community where there are lots of older people with a lot of physical ailments who I’m sure also have a lot of pills. I heard the other day he was working at another housing community in another town in the same job capacity. I’ll bet his current employer has no clue what he did because the police never charged him with anything. Or he was charged and was left off with an promise to be good.
NOW – If this had been a black man, what do you think would have happened, especially if he had been caught with narcotics and didn’t have a prescription bottle? This next sentence I pulled off an article about a different case.
“Someone caught with 44 hydrocodone tablets would face 25 years in prison.” And this was methadone, a stronger drug.
Did I want this man to go to prison? No. Hopefully hee got help for his addiction and hopefully he is okay – although once an addict always an addict. I hope he never needs pain pills again. But what happened to the “War on Drugs” with him? Didn’t it count? Did being white equal a “Get Out of Jail Free Card”?
My point is the disparity is what happens to you depending on if you are white or black, because I can promise you, if the maintenance man had been black they would have locked him up for a very-very-long-time.
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