Life or Meth: Battle for Pine Ridge (Pt 3: Solutions)

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It would be easy to look at the Meth crisis on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and simply say, everywhere has a Meth problem.
And that may be true.
But not like Pine Ridge.
The estimated number of users is shocking.

We focus on solutions as we conclude our special report "Life or Meth: Battle for Pine Ridge."

The estimated numbers are staggering. And because meth is used in private, nobody knows for sure what percentage of Pine Ridge residents are using it. But here's a couple ball park guesses.

Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Corrections Lt. Melinda Reddest says: "Probably 40, maybe 50%."

Pine Ridge Police Evidence Tech, Debra Mousseau says, "About 40 percent. 40 percent, and it will increase and it has increased.

Steve: Now on to solutions for turning back the epidemic of this dangerous and very addictive drug here.
We begin with an inmate we're calling Calvin.

'Calvin', an admitted meth and heroin addict says, "Really just want to know if you'd be able to get us more help, more treatments, and let people know that we're willing to stop."

We changed inmates names and concealed their faces to protect their identity. Calvin says he uses both Meth and Heroin.

Calvin says , "We need more treatments. We need more doctors. We need more counselors. And we need a faster court system."

Henry says he's a former meth user.

Henry says, "Best thing to do is just cut off the dealers, but that seems like it's hard for the cops too."

Lt. Leonard Her Many Horses says, "We're doing the best we can. We're working hard as we can with as little officers as there are right now.

Steve: Interim Police Chief Mark Mesteth says they need 120 to 130 more officers. They're funded for 44. Right now they have only around 30. Quick math shows they're running with about one quarter of the officers they need. He also has good news, they now have 4 trained drug and tracking dogs.

Interim Police Chief Mark Mesteth says, "We're going to be utilizing them on traffic stops, anytime an officer suspects something he could call them dogs out now, and we're going to be making sure they're available 24 hours."

US Attorney for South Dakota Randy Seiler and Drug Prosecutor Kathryn Rich, talking in general terms, not just about Pine Ridge say this:

US Attorney, Randy Seiler says, "So it just can't be an enforcement issue. It also has to be a prevention issue in terms of education, getting the word out there: no use, meth use ever. And hten also treatment.

Drug Prosecutor, Kathryn Rich, an Asst. US attorney for South Dakota, says "We have to hold the dealers responsible. We have to get the users the help that they need to return to a normal lifestyle. And then we have to make sure people who haven't used drugs don't start to use drugs."

While everyone seems to agree that treatment is a key, Jean Whirlwind Horse, Director of the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Corrections says Pine Ridge does not have adequate meth treatment facilities. So when inmates get approved for treatment, they have to send them elsewhere.

It will no doubt take a group effort.

Lt. Melinda Reddest of the OST DOC says, "Probably get our communities together. Collaborate with law enforcement, collaborate with everybody with their programs that help such as housing, us guys, law enforcement. Something where we can start breaking that down, where we collaborate where we want these drug dealers out of our homes, we want these drug dealers off our reservation. "

A woman known as 'Mama Julz', founder of the grassroots group Mothers Against Meth Alliance is a passionate warrior against meth.

Julie Richards, known as 'Mama Julz' says, "Some days I get tired and I feel like giving up but then I think, my ancestors didn't give up on me. My grandmother fought in the Battle of Little Bighorn and she survived that battle for me, you know. So I'm gonna do that for the future generations."

I was amazed at how open everyone was during our interviews, 15 interviews. Everybody from the Police Department to the Department of Corrections and even the inmates, very open and honest.
So many saying, 'We need help'.
And hopefully they can get it.