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Dear Editor,

    Issues divide communities and many times we arrive at our preference sad conclusions by how we would personally profit financially or benefit our entertainment.

    The current issue of gambling in Washington County looms to be such an issue.  Social ills, financial problems and spiritual barrenness are certain to follow any addictions.  Unless we cross paths with the casualties, it is easy to either encourage ourselves into wrong thinking and make wrong choices or remain uncommitted.

    I have in the past 18 years met with many such casualties.  One such casualty was a gambler who became an alcoholic to bear the pain of losing at the casino.  The losses kept mounting as a driver's license became suspended and then revoked, accompanied with a prison term.  This former inmate is still paying off gambling debts incurred before incarceration eight years ago.

    Please print the enclosed letter written by a present inmate who has just begun serving a 10-year prison sentence.  It gives his perspective on addictions.

Calvin M. Yoder, chaplain

Iowa Medical Classification Center (Oakdale prison)

1390 Johnson Washington Rd. SW


- P.S. This inmate wishes to not use his full name.  I certify the authenticity.

    Let's just say y name is Bobby S.  I am currently in prison for my third time due to drug-related charges.  I started using drugs around the age of 7.  I was smoking pot and getting drunk on a regular basis by the age of 13.  I had shot heroin; by the age of 16, I was using coke and heroin and begging, borrowing and stealing, any way to support my habit.

    By the time I was 25, I had been to prison for my first time because of trying to feed my habit. Treatment nor prison seemed to help.  Then, I tried meth and soon forgot all about heroin and other drugs.  Then my life spun out of control for nearly 10 years before I landed myself into prison because of my meth habit.  

    Soon I would be 35 years old coming out of prison for the second time with the support of my family, friends, and church and vowing not to use drugs anymore.  I soon had a good job, a house and a car.  My parole officer was watching me pretty close for drugs, and my life seemed to be on track for the first time ever.  I didn't think anything could lead me back to a life of crime until I stopped at a casino on my way to work one morning.

    The next thing I know I quit my job and I'm robbing drug dealers to get money to support my gambling habit.  Now, I'm in prison for my third time due to drug-related charges.   My gambling habit has allowed me to forget about my drug addiction.  However, it took me 25 years to land myself in prison trying to support my drug habit.  It took me about five months to hit bottom trying to feed my gambling addiction.

    As I sit here in prison thinking about all of the robbing, stealing and lying I did to feed my gambling habit, I can't help but wonder how all the people with homes, families, good jobs and outstanding credit are going to pay for their gambling habit.

    It's only my incarcerated opinion that gambling is the worst of two evils.

- Bobby S. (and I'm doing 10 years, IMCC)

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