At some point in the future, we all hope, the COVID-19 pandemic will be in our rearview mirror.
A priority for the Shoals, I believe, is a strategy to address the miserable conditions at our jails, inadequate mental health assistance, widespread opioid addiction and homelessness.
Every community in Lauderdale and Colbert counties is lacking the tools to address these problems effectively.
As I have written in my book, “The Muscle Shoals,” our two-county region is particularly well-suited for collaboration among units of government and the independent sector to address problems that have little respect for local boundaries.
Like every community, we have elected officials whose loyalty are mainly to their voters. As the saying goes, “Where you sit is where you stand,” discouraging collaborative solutions to persistent problems, and like the current COVID-19 virus, that know no boundaries.
There are many models in the United States that use a rehabilitative model that inform their criminal justice system, that separates out schizophrenics, manic depressives, others with serious mental disorders and addictions from incarcerated populations typically resulting in declines in recidivism.
Some studies indicate that overall local regional economies are improved in those communities that address these issues using best practices and with broad public support.
Our leaders have demonstrated that local regional teamwork produces dividends for responsible growth.
Now is the time to come together to address these serious problems with smart solutions.