Judges Emge, Rudolf Visit Nashville Middle School For Red Ribbon Week

Judges Emge, Rudolf Visit Nashville Middle School For Red Ribbon Week

By Alex Haglund

Every October, schools around the United States observe Red Ribbon Week, an effort to get American youth to avoid drugs, which was started in honor of murdered Drug Enforcement Agency agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena.

On Monday, October 30, students at Nashville Middle School were visited by 20th Judicial Circuit Judges Dan Emge of Washington County and Heinz Rudolf of St. Clair County, who spoke to the students during an afternoon Physical Education class about some of the dangers of drug abuse, both legal and otherwise.

Both of the Judges, due to their position, have encountered far more in the way of people whose lives have been touched by, and in some cases, ruined by, drugs and drug abuse.

Addiction

The eighth graders heard from Emge first, who focused his talk on addiction.

Emge referred to addiction as a disease, saying that for addicts, a drug, “changes their brains,” taking effect on the pleasure and reward centers and flooding their head with dopamine, adding, “that’s where we get the word ‘dope’ from.”

Judge Dan Emge, Washington County’s resident judge, spoke to seventh and eighth grade students Monday about the dangers of addiction.

Some of the factors that can have an effect on addiction or the chances for someone to get addicted could be genetics and ethnicity, culture, family and social support, the age at which someone first tries a drug, and even the drug itself.

“Some drugs are just more addictive than others,” Emge said. He stated that the top five most addictive drugs were heroin, alcohol, cocaine, barbituates and nicotine – cigarettes, dip and snuff.

“Prescription drugs can be especially dangerous,” Emge said,” especially prescription opioids.”

The top drugs abused by twelfth graders in the United States Emge said, were marijuana, alcohol, ritalin, oxycontin and cough syrup, and he noted that those last three were either prescription drugs or had some medical purpose.

“Prescription drugs can be especially dangerous,” Emge said,” especially prescription opioids.”

“They’re essentially the same thing as heroin,” he continued, “except they’re in a pure form and they’re give to you by a doctor.”

Even when taken as prescribed though, they’re addictive, Emge told the students. “I’ve seen it, I see it every day. When he sentences people, Emge states that he asks them how they got started on drugs and, “almost every time,” they say that it began with prescription drugs.

“Stay away from these prescription drugs,” Emge pleaded with the students, “especially if you don’t have a prescription.” He encouraged them that should they have an injury or surgery, ask their doctors to consider a different form of pain management so that they wouldn’t get started on the path of prescription opioid dependence.

The Law

Rudolf’s discussion with the students was based more on the law and its consequences regarding drugs and drug abuse.

Judge Heinz Rudolf, of St. Clair County, joined Washington County Judge Dan Emge, in visiting students at Nashville Middle School on Monday, October 30.

Rudolf came at the talk from the angle that, as eighth graders, the time was drawing near when these students might see themselves behind the wheel of an automobile and, despite all of that anticipation and build-up, one mistake regarding drugs or alcohol could make it so that from the age of 16 through the age of 21, they might not be able to drive.

“our job as judges is to be fair, to be impartial,” and, he added, “to follow the law.”

“In Illinois, a driver’s license is considered a privilege, not a right,” Rudolf explained, and despite the fact that a student might study hard, help their friends and neighbors, and generally be a good person, due to zero tolerance laws, that one mistake might mean that a person loses that driving privilege.

For himself and Emge, Rudolf said, “our job as judges is to be fair, to be impartial,” and, he added, “to follow the law.”

Losing a drivers license might be the least of someone’s worries when it comes to driving under the influence though. Rudolf stated that in Illinois, another possible legal penalty of a DUI was imprisonment from one to 364 days in jail.

With all this evidence of how easy it can be to become addicted to drugs, what’s the answer for young people?

“Don’t do drugs!” exclaimed Emge.

The penalties for drug and alcohol possession, use or abuse can go beyond the person who has them or uses them too.

“There’s a thing called liability for the host,” Rudolf said to the students, saying that what that meant was that parents or guardians who knowingly allowed alcohol or drugs to be consumed at their residence might be held liable if someone then left there and got in a traffic accident while under the influence.

A student asked Rudolf about what might happen if they were to be pulled over and someone else in their vehicle had liquor, even if they themselves didn’t.

“That’s a very good question,” Rudolf said, and told the students that sometimes, a court might look at a concept called “wingspan”, the area that a person in a vehicle might be able to conceivably reach, when it came to determining possession.

Rudolf said that the United States, because of the freedoms for its citizens, was the greatest country on earth. He particularly made note of freeedom from unjust search and seizure, and the presumption of innocence.

“The opportunities here are endless,” Rudolf said, “but being unaware of your rights is no excuse.”

Avoiding Trouble

With all of these issues, with all this evidence of how easy it can be to become addicted to drugs, what’s the answer for young people?

“Don’t do drugs!” exclaimed Emge.

If a students is offered drugs, give an excuse, leave, remove yourself from the situation, even lie, Emge said, “it’s the time in your life when it’s ok to lie.”

“Stop,” Rudolf said. “Stop. Think. Reflect. Take a step and think, ‘what could be the end result?’”

“Tell them your parents are strict,” he added. “blame me if you want, tell them I’m going to put you in jail.”

“Stop,” Rudolf said. “Stop. Think. Reflect. Take a step and think, ‘what could be the end result?’”

“Abstinence is your best bet,” Emge reiterated. “If you don’t try it, you’re not going to become addicted.”