The suspected heroin dealer has been in jail for months after being accused of selling extremely “dangerous” drugs. Beverly N. Burrell is the suspect in several deaths linked to the heroin she was allegedly selling. One alleged victim was a resident of Minneapolis. The heroin was, in some cases, combined with other drugs that made the already dangerous drug nearly murderous. Prosecutors may be trying to prove that Burrell knowingly sold the “laced” drug to the alleged victims. While the details of this particular case are troubling, this case also serves as a reminder of the dangerous heroin problem that is plaguing the entire nation including Minneapolis.

Multiple media reports show that heroin use in the United States is at a rate unseen since the 1990s. More use means more overdoses, more ruined lives through addiction and more incarcerations for dealing heroin and related crimes. And this may be the crux of the problem: despite all we know about addiction and the psychological reasons that may lead to heroin addiction and the economic realities that may lead to heroin dealing, our society continues to treat the drug problem as a criminal justice issue. This is a short-sighted and, potentially, catastrophic way to address a complex social problem.