More than 20 years in, why is methamphetamine still such a problem?

For your consideration …

Eight days in jail.

When all is said and done, that’s how many days Kitty S. Hasse, 55, will have served in jail.

Hasse admitted to being the ring leader for two years of a five-person methamphetamine dealing conspiracy, bringing up to 1 pound of methamphetamine into Noble County every week. She was sentenced Tuesday in Noble Superior Court I on a Level 3 conspiracy to deal methamphetamine charge dating back to an arrest which came in July 2019 in Ligonier.

Eight days.

Not eight years.

Eight days.

In jail. As in the Noble County Jail.

Not prison.

In jail.

Eight days.

In jail.

Let that sink in.

And it’s time she’s already served.

Hasse admitted to authorities to leading an operation that was bringing up to 1 pound of meth per week distributed in Noble County.

Unless you have been using meth yourself, you realize methamphetamine has been the scourge of Noble County for more than two decades, ripping families apart, turning productive citizens into addicts and leading to who knows how many thefts and burglaries.

Hasse spent two years helping to fuel that problem in a big way.

Technically, Hasse received a nine-year sentence. But Noble Superior Court I Judge Robert Kirsch suspended all of that time, with credit being given for eight days Hasse spent in jail pretrial and another 430 days spent on GPS monitoring as part of her pretrial release agreement.

Kirsch pointed out that she had no substantive prior criminal history. He also pointed out that the Department of Child Services had recently returned her six grandchildren to her guardianship.

According to Hasse, she has never used hard drugs.

This was an aggravating factor in the mind of Noble County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Mowery.

Most meth dealers who weave their way through the Noble County court system are addicts who are selling drugs — in no small part — to feed their addiction.

Hasse led an operation that was selling meth while she said she was stone cold sober. At the time of her arrest, she said she worked in the conspiracy so her son would stop cooking meth himself.

“I obviously wasn’t thinking straight,” Hasse said during sentencing.

Not thinking straight? When you and I aren’t thinking straight, we misplace our car keys.

When Hasse doesn’t think straight, apparently, she leads a conspiracy for drugs over a two-year period.

According to Tuesday’s hearing, Hasse’s grandchildren were in the Ligonier home she was living in at the time of her arrest. Those grandchildren told investigators they were there when the dealing was going on and could identify drug paraphernalia.

(How Hasse is the most suitable guardian for those children is fodder for another time ...)

And how was Hasse punished for leading this meth ring?

The criminal justice system in Indiana says nine years is the average sentence someone should receive if convicted of a Level 3 felony, if aggravating and mitigating factors are equal. Nine years.

Hasse did not get nine years to serve.

She didn’t even get 1 year.

Eight days.

In jail.

Already served.

“It wasn’t the sentence I asked for,” Mowery said after Tuesday’s proceedings.

Mowery wanted Hasse to serve the full four years allowed under a plea agreement.

Kirsch thought differently.

“I try to make decisions on the unique characteristics of each individual case,” Kirsch said afterward. “Prison for her? That wouldn’t have been appropriate.”

How about the real victims in this case? The Noble County citizens who were either introduced to meth or had their habits cemented by the conspiracy’s operation.

Your average criminal would spend more time in jail for literally slapping someone on the wrist.

You could spend more time for driving drunk.

The longer the sentence, the more serious the crime. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?

It didn’t work that way in Noble County on Tuesday.

It didn’t work that way at all.

Mowery should have stipulated prison time in his plea deal, and it should have been a minimum of five years in prison for a Level 3 felony. Kirsch should have sentenced accordingly.

Other than acts of violence or crimes against children, there is nothing worse a human being can do than introduce someone to or feed a methamphetamine habit. That’s the “Level 2” in Level 2 felony charge.

Noble County’s meth problems continue.

Wonder why.

I can give you eight reasons.

Matt Getts has covered meth in Noble County since the mid-1990s. Editor Steve Garbacz pointed out that a person spends more time in COVID-19 quarantine than Hasse will have spent in jail. Getts can be emailed at mgetts@kpcmedia.com.

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