A look at the profits of detention.
Interest in medicinal use for psychedelics is exponentiating within the confines of American consciousness. Perhaps successes in medical cannabis aided the humble psychedelics to transcend cultural stigma, but that’s less important.
What’s important is compounds like LSD and psilocybin have qualities besides medical benefits. Namely, the psychedelic experience: a journey through the self, outer world and, some report, those beyond. Psychedelic research oftentimes introduces scientists to a “god-line” separating simple medical curiosity, and “the other”. How is western– particularly American–science to navigate the god-line? Is our culture prepared for the consequences of crossing it?
The drug war’s casualties reach far beyond bloated penitentiary yards, fractured rehab facilities, and its own endless perpetuation. America’s opioid crisis, and its scale, is straining police, the policed, and the decades old rhetoric between them.
Heroin use and overdose in particular is climbing, indiscriminately rocking towns with barbaric fervor. Milwaukee Wisconsin is no stranger, nor its numerous nearby suburbs–like Wauwatosa. Perhaps now is the time for law enforcement to consider drug enforcement nuances cropping up elsewhere in the country.
“888 bodies and counting”, a morbid but fitting title to a recent report by Milwaukee’s alderman’s office. In 14 pages, the document presents detailed analysis of a overdose plague striking the city. “Milwaukee county alone has seen a 495% increase in heroin related deaths between 2005-2015”, it reads. As a point of perspective, Milwaukee’s opioid deaths, heroin and others, exceed deaths by car accidents and homicide.
On 12 February, 13 employees of the Mill Creek MetroParks, one of the largest municipal park systems in the United States, were dismissed without notice. These employees were not permitted to gather their belongings or to speak with their co-workers, and were escorted off the premises by MetroPark police officers. Two of these employees, Ray Novotny and Keith Kaiser, were department heads and had worked as public servants at Mill Creek for over 30 and 27 years, respectively. This is an ongoing series to examine the causes of these firings, and what the culture of the Mill Creek MetroParks says about local government.
You can view the original Pontiac Tribune article on this issue here.
Much of the controversy surrounding the February firings, as well as numerous other issues relating to Mill Creek Metroparks management, has centered around Executive Director Aaron Young, who was hired in January 2015. The circumstances surrounding Young’s appointment were themselves controversial, and are partially the subject of Part One in this series. This installment will focus on the mercurial character of Aaron Young, his leadership, and interactions with members of the community in order to help show why broad executive powers should not be vested in unelected officials.