Local man continues campaign for harsher penalties for meth-crimes

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By Charlotte Underwood

Caryville resident Ronnie Daugherty is continuing his crusade against meth by asking the public for support in the eradication of meth and meth-related problems.

Around two months ago, Daugherty approached the Caryville Board of Mayor and Aldermen with his concerns about the county-wide problem.  At that meeting, he requested the town of Caryville send a letter to the state requesting harsher punishment for meth-related crimes.

The Caryville board agreed and made a motion to write the letter.

Daugherty is continuing his campaign in the other municipalities, but said that’s not enough. This is something the public is going to support as well.

While it has been evident to him this was a growing county problem, he cited the recent infringement of meth onto the playgrounds and schools as his “final straw”.

“I saw that Press picture of the swing set and all those meth components and all I could see was some little girl playing right there by that poison,” Daugherty said emotionally.

He blames the lack of harsher punishment for the majority of the problem.

“If you catch me speeding, I can’t plea down, yet they can,” said Daugherty, citing the current system is too lenient.

“What we need is mandatory minimum sentencing so people can’t plea down,” said Daugherty, explaining it wasn’t the police or the judges or the prosecutors who were lacking, but rather the laws they must work under.

“It doesn’t make sense to turn a dangerous criminal loose, yet they do it every day,” said Daugherty.  

“We don’t have the space to hold them. Well I’d like to see the old jail renovated with a big sign on the front that reads ‘Those who enter in here have been convicted of meth charges’”, said Daugherty firmly.

He believes more funding and community and state communication is the key to solving the problem of meth.

“We need more funding to fight this problem and it’s going to take all four cities working together and communicating to fight it as well,” stated Daugherty.

It is a problem that no-one living in the county can escape, according to Daugherty.

“We’re all affected by it, put 10 people in a room and at least someone has had to deal with it whether through a family member or neighbor,” said Daugherty, explaining that meth-related problems could only be solved if the communities joined together and took a stand.

“Write letters, make phone calls, whatever, but let your council members, your state representatives, your school board, let them know that you stand behind a mandatory minimum sentencing that would put these dangerous criminals away,” said Daugherty, urging the public to take action.

While advocating for involvement, Daugherty said that he in no way intends or wants people to do anything dangerous.

“Don’t try to investigate a situation yourself. If you suspect meth in an area, then notify the local sheriff or police department and then be patient while they do their jobs,” Daugherty said.

“We’re becoming know as the meth capitol of the state; it’s not going to go away unless we do something about it,” he declared.

“It’s a low-key thing right now, but I hope it will grow and that the public will join in the effort,” Daugherty said.

His next plans are to speak to the LaFollette City Council and the Jacksboro Board of Mayor and Aldermen to ask them to draft a letter to the state in support of the mandatory minimum sentencing system.

Daugherty urges anyone interested in becoming involved in solving the meth problem to write or call their state representative.  He also invites the public to contact him at 912- 3096 in the hopes of forming a group of concerned citizens to support the anti-meth effort.