As you may have read before, I've printed a few columns written by Whitefish Bay residents June Rubner, and her son Justin, who is currently serving a year long sentence as a result of his drug addiction and subsequent misdeeds.
Justin has written another story from jail, chronicling some of his experiences with drugs in Whitefish Bay.
From Justin Rubner:
It's not just parents and students who want to figure out how and why tragic events like Maddie Kiefer's death have plagued our Village, I'm looking for answers too. I am Justin Rubner and am currently serving a 12-month sentence in the Franklin House of Correction as a direct result of my drug addiction as a teenager -- decisions and actions that I now deeply regret and must live with for the rest of my life. I would like to apologize to my community for the harm I have caused and hope to give back through educating and helping others to prevent making the same mistakes I did.
As a teenager in Whitefish Bay, I never expected to have any of my friends die, but all of that changed 2 years ago when John "Stony" Featherstone died from a mixed drug overdose of Oxycontin, Benzodiazapenes and alcohol while he was out celebrating getting out of jail on electronic surveillance. His newfound freedom ended when he stopped breathing in his sleep and not responding when his brother Connor tried to wake him the next morning. This surprised me and many of John's friends because he was not the type of person anyone thought would end up overdosing.
Just a little over a year later, one of my best friends, Ben Paliafito ended up overdosing while partying at a friend's new apartment on the East side. Ben had been doing Oxycontin, Benzodiazapenes and was also drinking heavily according to witnesses. He had fallen asleep on the couch and stopped breathing while everyone else still partied on. By the time Ben was noticed it was already too late -- he was unresponsive to treatment by the paramedics once they were finally called in to help. Again, Ben's death had been a shock to many of his friends because he was not the type of person to go out and overdose on drugs. The circumstances surrounding Ben Paliafito's death and that of John Featherstone's were exactly the same -- a deadly cocktail of mixed drugs and alcohol, plus they both were out partying with ALL THE SAME PEOPLE when they died!
Now, just this past month, Madison Kiefer is getting high at the house of Matthew Laughrin, one of her drug dealers. Just like Paliafito, Maddie stops breathing and is unresponsive when Laughrin tries to wake her to go home. At this point, one LARGE mistake is made -- Matt Laughrin chooses to call his father to help take Maddie to her friend's house and dump her in the driveway. WHY didn't Laughrin or his father dial 911 so that paramedics could attempt to revive Maddie? Was Matt scared that his drug house would be searched and he'd get arrested for dealing if "he had done the right thing?" We may never know exactly what he was thinking, but I guarantee you that his facing first-degree reckless homicide charges IS going to be a lot scarier than what he should have done.
After reading the many stories behind these three tragic deaths related to drug overdoses, tell me why none of this seems to make sense. Not one of the people mentioned in these stories learned from the mistakes of others -- even when confronted by the face of death. The world today relies on most people learning from someone else's successes, failures or mistakes -- that is why history is never supposed to repeat itself. But there is one exception to all of this . . . addicts. Drug addicts are too caught up in chasing their next high to wake up and realize they have turned control of their lives over to drugs.
What we must now teach everyone is how to be aware of addiction and its warning signs. Once you are an addict, reasoning with yourself or others is all but impossible. All three of the WFB victims were too far gone in the grasps of addiction to be able to learn from others’ wrongdoings. In educating the public, we must reason with younger children and teenagers before it becomes too late to do so.
Prevention of addiction is one thing, but when someone is already messed up and refuses to listen to anyone trying to help them, there are three options for you -- treatment, jail or death. Only when the first two options come into play, may an addict look up from the haze and think twice about what they are doing to themselves or to others. The third option -- well, no one really wants to go there, do they? Or do they? In my situation, my own loving mother had me arrested, I was charged with felony possession of heroin, and had to participate in a court-ordered drug and alcohol treatment program, as well as be subjected to weekly random drug testing. For many addicts like me, it takes a shock like this for them to wake up and see the reality of what has become their life. But .. you still have one major obstacle: YOU CANNOT HELP AN ADDICT UNLESS THEY WANT TO BE HELPED!
As a former drug user, I can tell you that "the village has become a safe haven" for both users and dealers alike. Drug dealers have taken refuge in our schools because there are so many students who have the money and are looking to purchase the drugs. The schools are not doing anything to prevent drugs from entering the schools or deals taking place. Shouldn’t there be consequences for this? I spent 3 years at the middle school and 4 years at the high school and not once did anyone even suggest random locker searches or shakedowns. I am sure there are still many areas within the schools in which drug deals are continuing to go down, as well as outside of the schools.
The drugs are plentiful -- they are coming from larger dealers outside of WFB and then passed on to a high number of small-time dealers within our community and within our schools. Only now, that a 15 year old WFBHS student has died is everyone admitting there is a very serious drug problem here. We all live in a great community, but there is a great big problem within WFB. We must step back and take a look at how parents are parenting, how and when we are educating our kids, how we are policing and what we are and are not doing to prevent this problem from turning into an epidemic. We already have seen too many lives destroyed and dreams shattered because of addiction. I am personally committed towards helping my community of Whitefish Bay prevent and stop the problems of drug addiction. Let's just hope that ALL members of the community, along with our Village officials, the Police Department, the schools and their officials are all on the same page or it will be a problem that will never go away. Bay United is on the right path towards addressing the problem, but this problem needs a village behind it!