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Thursday, September 22, 2022

Silver Springs resident discusses Marion County’s affordable activities, crime rate

To the Editor:

I have just read the letters expressing various opinions of Ocala and Marion County, and I’m once again appalled. People continually complain that there is nothing to do here. My family has never found a lack of entertainment, but we put in the effort to look.

Both parks and recreation departments provide cheap or free activities and entertainment. There are movie theaters, bowling alleys, dance clubs, swimming holes, tennis and golf clubs, springs, museums, hiking trails, etc. If you are not entertained in Marion County, you aren’t looking.

People also complain about all the decent shopping and dining being located on SR 200, and they want grocery stores and restaurants built closer to them. Do they not realize that encouraging growth encourages big city crime? The drug abuse and crime rate in Marion County is deplorable, as it is everywhere. But I want our county to do better.

Drug abuse and crime are often fueled by mental illness, and Marion County lacks mental health care that is sufficient for this town. It takes weeks to months to get help at AMA, which is not soon enough to prevent mental health crisis. Once in crisis, the mentally ill often end up in jail, where they wait months for mental health medications, and then they get the cheapest and least amount of medication available.

My nephew went bipolar psychotic and got arrested instead of Baker Acted. He was in the jail for three months before finally receiving medication for depression, but not bipolar mania. If better mental health services were available to Marion County residents, in and out of jail, then Marion County would have fewer incidences of substance use disorder and crime.

And while I am picking on the jail, it needs to offer better rehabilitation services to the inmates. As a psychology major, I can tell you that the sorry excuse of a substance abuse program is useless. There are no anger management classes, parenting classes, or anything productive for non-working inmates to do. Two years ago, I spent two weeks in there on an unregistered moped charge and I couldn’t even get a book to read.

We can begin reducing crime by beginning with the jail.

Colleen O’Brien
Silver Springs resident

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