By MIKE WEST
Pardon the expression, but durn if you do and durned if you don't.
I'm referring to the dilemma faced by Sheriff Darrell Young.
He's under the obligation to arrest and jail offenders here in Cannon County, but he's also facing the increasing problem with having a place to house them.
The jail is currently housing 52 male prisoners and 22 females.
Many of these prisoners are charged with drug-related offenses. We're not talking about marijuana. Instead, most of the cases involve methamphetamine. Last week's top story was that Tennessee is No. 1 out of 50 states in meth-related cases.
Meth. It is nasty stuff made from a horrifying list of chemicals like acetone, rubbing alcohol, iodine, starter fluid (either), drain cleaner, lithium batteries, rock salt and paint thinner. Yep, most of them are poisonous and toxic to breathe.
That list of nasty stuff is combined with cough, cold, asthmas and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine or ephedrine.
Cooked together, these chemicals turn the ephedrine into methamphetamine. If they don't explode first….
Meth is a neurotoxin, which means it damages the body's nervous system. It can cause dependence and addiction, stroke, cardiac arrhythmia and a dangerously high body temperature. Withdrawal from meth often causes severe depression and paranoia.
Wonderful stuff. (Get the sarcasm?) It does terrible things to your body, aging your before your time. Not to mention the fact it makes your teeth fall out.
Sheriff Young and his crew are fighting meth. They have made more than 32 meth arrests this year. That's an average of more than eight a month.
Those folks - rightly - end up in jail. That's why Cannon County has 74 prisoners in a jail built for 42 prisoners.
Jail overcrowding is becoming an increasing problem here and there's little that can be done to combat it. Put 'em in tents, you say. You can't exactly do that. In Tennessee if you put prisoners in tents you have to provide showers and restroom facilities out there.
The bottom line is that Cannon County will probably have to expand its jail sometime in the near future or come up with some alternatives.
Durn if you do … durned if you don't.