Needle Exchange | Letters | Chicago Reader

Needle Exchange 

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To the editors:

I am writing about your story "Good Works" concerning the needle exchange program that a couple of do-gooders have started on the south side of the city [June 19].

Distribution of needles without a prescription is against Illinois law. If the residents and the police on the south side wish to tolerate this illegal behavior, fine. I don't live there and I, and my family, don't have to put up with addicts, crime, and old needles laying in the streets and playgrounds. I do however expect the law to be enforced on the north side where I reside and if the police do not want to enforce the law, we must take matters into our own hands. I will not stand by while needles are distributed to stupid dope addicts in front of children.

I am so sick of hearing about dope addicts being "victims" when the fact of the matter is that the rest of us are really their "victims." The truth is that they are responsible for about 90 percent of the ills in society. Their habit costs us billions of dollars that could be spent on schools and veterans that really do need help. The crime rate, gangs, child abuse, and many other ills can be traced back to drug addicts.

If you were going to publish a story on the virtues of a clean needle program, perhaps you should tell your readers about the little kid that was shot in the head in Evanston because a drug addict didn't pay the dealer. Or perhaps you can publish a photo of a three-month-old that hasn't been fed or had its diaper changed for a week because mama is a crack addict.

If there were ever a group of people--and I use the term loosely--who deserve whatever they get in the way of disease, it is dope addicts. They should die and leave the rest of us alone. In fact, it is too bad that we cannot do like the Chinese and put them out of their misery with a bullet to the head.

Kevin Kitchen
W. Lunt

Jeffrey Felshman replies:

Distribution of needles without a prescription is legal in Illinois when it's done for scientific research purposes. The research into needle exchange that the Chicago Recovery Alliance is doing has been endorsed by scientists in Illinois, New York, and California. These facts were stated in the article.

Though similar programs exist in the Far East (where many of the users of Chicago's south-side exchange first picked up their drug habits while serving in the armed forces) there are none in China. What Mr. Kitchen says about China is true--in fact, people (or sub-people) are executed there for a range of crimes. Offenders are marched in a line to the top of a mountain, their families forced to follow carrying coffins. After witnessing the execution the family must put the offender's corpse in the coffin and carry it back down the mountain. Despite the support of Mr. Kitchen, this method would never work in Chicago. There aren't any mountains here.

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