I think it was the picture of a red ball of candy laced with THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, that got to me.

This tempting jawbreaker was found in a public area at the 300-bed homeless family shelter in Midvale — a place where children roam while their parents try to negotiate a pathway back to mainstream society.


The photo is part of a newly released audit by Utah’s legislative auditor general, a report that outlines a host of problems uncovered by random visits to shelters run by the nonprofit Road Home organization.

That includes, especially, the main Salt Lake shelter on Rio Grande Street. That’s where auditors (and the police accompanying them) found used syringes, spice joints, people quickly hiding things as they approached, people showing signs of a drug overdose and broken alarms that are supposed to sound when someone breaches the barriers separating men from women.

As I read, I kept looking back to the first page for the date. Had I read wrong? It says May 2018, but shouldn’t it be 2017, before Operation Rio Grande, in which police poured into the area around Salt Lake City’s homeless shelter and the road was closed to keep the bad people out, had started?

“Based on our own observations and the comments by those we interviewed, we have concluded that drug use at the downtown shelter is both common and problematic,” the audit said.

Haven’t we gotten past that by now?

And please, I’m aware that House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, is cautioning us all not to “engage in pearl clutching,” as he told the Deseret News. That’s a phrase meaning we shouldn’t treat something commonplace as if it were new or salacious.

But at what point, when we see drug-laced candy at a shelter for children, shouldn’t we look for something to clutch?

And weren’t we told a year ago that the commonplace was about to become passé? Wasn’t that the whole point of the tough talk, such as when House Speaker Greg Hughes promised the bad guys would go and stay away because they would understand the crackdown this time was for good, or when Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said, “Wherever the bad guys go, we’re going with them.”

Except that they keep coming back to the same place, some with weapons, some with drugs, and some finding their way in despite being banned for acting badly in the past.

The …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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Jay Evensen: Why are the homeless shelters still unsafe?

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