Editor's note: This is a true story. However, John Doe is a fictitious name used to protect the man's identity for his safety.
For drug convictions in two counties, John Doe made a plea agreement. He was sentenced to serve 90 days at Fellowship House, a half-way house in Terre Haute on a work release program. Also, he was sentenced to one year in jail which was suspended. He had to attend counseling sessions and group therapy. He would remain on probation until the end of 2002.
John hadn't actually spent the maximum time in jail because he was allowed into the residential treatment in lieu of jail. But he'd been jailed enough to know that he didn't want to go back. He intended to do whatever it took to stay out.
"Jail was very boring. Dull and boring. It was awful," John said, wide-eyed as if the very thought still frightened him. "And being surrounded by heathens and people in jail for theft and battery. It was a real mind opening experience."
John said he believed that most people in jail were there because of drugs or alcohol. He thought even the guys in for non-support didn't pay the child support because they put their money into drugs and alcohol.
Clay Superior Court Judge J. Blaine Akers and Circuit Court Judge Ernest Yelton agree that they believe 75 percent of the people in the Clay County jail are there, directly or indirectly, due to drugs. Both judges think that is a conservative estimate.
"I realize it was my fault that I was there," John said. "I didn't even know I was addicted until I was forced to quit. I have to find a way to live my life without drugs. I just don't know how the effects of being totally free from drugs will be. I'd like to meet people who have never used, normal people.
"In my age group that's very difficult to find," John continued. "Drugs are just a part of the life style. Drugs are everywhere and so easy to get. In Brazil, it seems the further west you go the more drugs are available and the rougher it is. Clay City has a lot of closet users. They hide it better."
Clay Community Schools Drug Education Coordinator Lori Knight said that in 2000, a student survey was done in Clay County for The Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Use Survey. The analysis was done by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center which is a division of Indiana University in Bloomington.
For marijuana use, in Clay Community Schools, the survey showed, by grade, the percentages of students who used the drug 1-5 times a month or more. Results were: 9th graders-18.5 percent, 10th graders-22.3 percent, 11th graders-22.7 percent and 12th graders-27 percent.
"While the drug problem in Clay County is definitely county-wide," Knight said, "statistics for 2002, percentage wise, show that the Clay City schools have less truancy, dropouts and disciplinary problems than the Northern schools. Those factors can be indicators of drug use."
John said a lot of methamphetamine used in Clay County comes out of Greene County. But he thinks the bulk of what's used here comes from California and Mexico.
"The police do a good job here," John said. "They're probably not getting most of the drugs flowing in but they're catching a lot of the local labs. That might be a deterrent to others and keep people from blowing others up."
Clay County Sheriff Rob Carter disagreed.
"The Diablos are a motorcycle club known for importing and exporting high quantities of meth," Carter said. "I think that's where the Mexico, California connection may have come from. They're in trial right now in Federal Court. For the most part they appear to be broken up. We're not seeing much from them any longer."
Carter thinks the bulk of drugs used here are coming from Clay and Greene County.
"I feel most of it's being made locally," Carter said. "The Greene County connection may be coming up here stealing anhydrous ammonia to make their meth. They're going to go to rural areas to set up their labs because they can hide and are less likely to get caught.
"We try to go after the labs because we're getting a two for one deal," Carter explained. "We're getting a manufacturer and a dealer in one bust. And we're taking down a very explosive situation by doing that."
Steve Sutherland, a Certified Addictions Counselor, who monitors John, agrees with Sheriff Carter.
"Also," Sutherland said, "the judges are giving stronger sentences. Plus citizens are just getting tired of it. They're calling and giving information to the police. And the police and prosecutor are going after them aggressively."
John continued with his story on a cool November, 2002, afternoon. He had been released from the Fellowship House but was still on probation. Living with his parents, he was trying to make a life for himself without drugs.
The handsome young man fidgeted constantly. It seemed difficult for him to hold eye contact with his interviewer. John was either tapping a foot or nervously rubbing his legs as he talked.
"It's really hard to find anybody out there that don't use," he said sadly. "The counselors advised me to stay away from my old friends, my drug buddies. The same environment will produce the same behavior.
"And they said not to date for a year. They said it was too much trying to deal with no drugs and work on a relationship at the same time. But I'm lonely now. I have my family but my boss and my dog are my best friends.
"I go to church on a regular basis. If I get a better understanding of God maybe I can find a peace without having to look for it in a sack."
John was asked what he thought he'd do after he was off probation.
"I think I'm going to find some sort of new contentment and peace or I'm going to remain dry until I do," he answered. "I feel I can make it, but there's fear there. I'm afraid I won't find normal things. A good relationship, a career, a good place to live. Only a good career and a good relationship will keep me clean. Discontentment is a trigger for me."
Tomorrow: Now what?