A Slash Burn Christmas (Part 1)

At precisely one minute past the stroke of midnight, Matt Hancock, a direct descendant of John Hancock, the bold first signator of the Declaration of Independence, was matrixed out of the Clatsop County Jail. Matrixed meant Matt was granted early release because of overcrowding and thus he would not serve the full 30 days of his sentence for violating his probation after testing positive for methamphetamine. It was Matt’s 47th time of incarceration in the jail over a period of seven years, every one of them for a drug and alcohol-related offense or probation violation.

This is what passes for criminal justice and drug treatment in Clatsop County.

Matt walked out into the darkness and into a phalanx of rain that was taking no prisoners because December rain on the Oregon Coast has no rules of engagement. He had no coat, no belt, no money, no phone, no job, no food, no friends, no family, no place to live, no place to crash. He was, however, still addicted to methamphetamine and now homeless walking the streets of Astoria the day before Christmas.

This is what passes for rational reentry into society after incarceration in Clatsop County.

Matt wandered the downtown blocks and admired the holiday decorations. The nativity scene at the Methodist church especially moved him and he thought about sacking out under the straw, but figured he might get caught, but perhaps getting caught wasn’t so bad because he might return to jail and they would matrix out another addict.

Change interested Matt. Cleaning up interested him. Once there had been promise, as there had been for so many Americans with his disease. He could repair anything that didn’t involve using a computer, and had once held down a couple of decent-paying jobs. He liked to fish for surf perch.

There’s been a good girlfriend, too, and a mutt and a cool truck. He was approaching 40 years of age, but maybe he was 39 or 42. Was his mother alive?

Then came the flood of methamphetamine…there was that party….

Hold it right there! We will not delve into Matt’s back story. It doesn’t possibly matter to a holiday tale. What matters now is what people will do to help Matt so he can help himself.

Those people are out there.