I write this letter as a means to see the extent of the problem that we are currently battling at all aspects of society. The crystal methamphetamine hydrochloride or “ice” problem within the CNMI has reached epic proportions. It is disturbing to hear that kids within the middle and high school levels are now reporting that they have come across the drug in some shape or fashion. You might be wondering who am I to give advice in the matter? To answer this I’m going to share some personal information that many in this community will find somewhat astonishing.
My name is Ross Hugh Songao Manglona. You can Google my name and find the following:
I am the former dean/director of NMC-CREES, a federally funded program that provides stakeholders with various services dealing in the agriculture and life science;
I am known for being attached to many political parties and candidates pursuing your vote at a chance to steer our Commonwealth;
I, along with my wife Julie Ogo Manglona, are known for our philanthropy in regards to our efforts at helping the community of Rota through a cause we call “Lutacares.”
What you will not find on Google, however, is the fact that I am a recovering “ice” addict. You will not find that I have been involved in different aspects of the drug dating back to the late 1980’s until 1996. You will also not find that I have been watched by the CNMI drug task force dating that far back as well. I believe that baring the aforementioned facts would qualify me to make the assertions that it is time for us as a community to stand up and all pitch in and fight this drug together. Why now? I’ve been given eight months to reflect on how this drug has affected me personally. The pinnacle, however, is how this drug has affected my entire family as a whole.
I would like to thank my wife Julie for finding the strength to say, “Enough is enough.” You spouses out there must be able to stand up and do the same as merely asking your husband or wife to stop is not enough! Take it to the next level if you must. In my wife’s case she had me incarcerated. You may not have seen it in the newspapers but for those out there wondering where I was, you are hearing it from me personally. I was in prison getting a “time out.” I am thankful for the “time to reflect.” It has brought me “back to basics.” I realize now that all my endeavors, whether it be toward my education or career, were done with the backing of a strong familial network. I am only as strong as my family’s bond.
By putting myself first, I jeopardized everything my family worked for as a unit. My wife was afraid of me, to say the least. When that happens, then we’ve reached rock bottom. No wife should ever fear the father of her children. By my selfish act, I singlehandedly turned a loving home into a war zone that didn’t even require a match to ignite. As such is my battle with my own “internal demons,” I am truly apologetic to my family and friends as you have given me your trust and I basically squandered such trust. I hope that we are all on the same page when I say this is a minor setback awaiting a major comeback.
As there is a current initiative out there to combat the CNMI’s ice addiction, I would like to declare that I support it wholeheartedly and offer my services should the need arise. As there are no drug rehabilitation centers within our shores, I’m basically rehabilitating myself by first declaring myself a recovering drug addict with eight months of sobriety under his belt. I hope that by getting actively involved in some shape or form, it would serve as the source of strength toward my full recovery. With this in mind I offer those appointed task force members the following recommendations:
1. At this point in time there is no present rehabilitation of any sort happening at the Department of Corrections. It is currently a 23-hour-per-day lock down with only one hour of “fresh air.” There are only a few given privileges toward working, thus aggression builds and so does recidivism. As a rule, when visiting DOC, please ask the inmates as all I’ve seen while being incarcerated is Department of Justice officials taking a stroll through the corridors and never asking the people being housed there if the facilities are running according to federal standards. You’d be surprised to know how prohibitive the place is that I’ve thought of contacting Amnesty International to launch multiple investigations on the treatment of inmates. I would suggest if funding drug rehabilitation efforts is the current constraint, at the very least have group counseling conducted by the Community Guidance Center for those individuals currently being incarcerated at the prison for a start.
2. Effort should be placed in rehabilitating the DYS facility and housing prospective drug offenders in Kagman as an incentive for good behavior at DOC. A merit system if you will. Why there? The Kagman commercial plots are adequate for inmates to take on the vocation of farming and ranching. The Garapan farmers market could serve as a potential place to sell hydroponically grown lettuce and other crops with NMC-CREES providing them instruction on such a low-tech method. NMC-CREES can serve as a major tool if you know how to use such professionals. Marianas Meat has been advertising their need for fresh pork. Why not have the “drug trustees” raise hogs? These are vocations NMC-CREES can take a lead in. When out of their respective sentences, you now have a trained individual in agriculture who at the very least can provide his family with fresh food and/or meat raised from such knowledge acquired.
3. As I am familiar with NMC-CREES’ mandate, I suggest that “value added” techniques be taught to those incarcerated as I’ve personally witnessed the level of creativity in our prison. Effort should be made to focus on the arts. If the art council is looking for artists, I suggest checking the Susupe lockup! These individuals should be allowed to harness their artistic skills and take it to the level in which they can make active income. It starts there in prison! When a man leaves his family to be locked up he starts questioning his worth. Having him sit there doing nothing only has him looking at better strategies to not get caught. We must look at prison as if it is a university with criminals teaching other criminals how to be more efficient in the art of criminality.
4. Support the drug court and look at ways of treating drug abuse as a disease rather than a crime. We are spending too much money locking up people with possession rather than trying to help them recover from their habit. In prison, CNMI inmates are allowed one contact visit with their families per month. This is called “family day.” This should not be limited to once a month as the family in many cultures is the main theme behind a community’s successes. It is beyond my comprehension why you would deprive them the privilege of having family day at least weekly to develop that bond that was lost from their drug abuse. Rehabilitation in my opinion requires the entire family’s effort. As in my situation, depriving me of my family was enough to charter a new course. Not everyone is made the same and as such feel that we must make the effort at truly helping them recover from this disease.
As thoughts arise, I will send them in for as Harry Blalock used to put it, “food for thought.” If you want to solicit my thoughts further in the matter, I can be reached at email@example.com. This fight is not just the government’s so for those of you that believe in me, I ask you to help me by becoming actively involved in the “War on Ice” as well!
As Lito, Saipan