Convicted Murderer and Ex-Drug Abuser Confronts Hillary Clinton at N.H. Event

By Zachary Siegel 08/13/15

The Clinton campaign is making mental health and addiction a central issue.

Hillary Clinton

States across the country are struggling to combat a growing problem involving opiate abuse and subsequent mortality. While campaigning in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton listened in on a town hall meeting where that very problem was the topic of discussion.

One man at the forum, who was convicted of murder and spent 11 years in prison, spoke frankly toward Clinton on his plight.

“You look at me as a regular person. But I served 11 years in prison," he began. “I’ve been out, clean and sober for 15 years, and I cannot find a full-time job because every time they run a background check: ‘You’re a convicted felon,’” he told Clinton.

“What would you suggest we do?” the sober man asked.

“At the end of the day, people can make their own judgment. But you shouldn’t be automatically disqualified,” Clinton said.

Mrs. Clinton, who is vying for the Democratic nomination, said substance abuse has cropped up as a prevalent issue in several of her meetings across the country. “Some people question why, since I’m running for president, would I be talking in New Hampshire about substance abuse?

“Really, it’s simple for me. That’s what people talk to me about.” She also said it has been surprising, “I did not expect that I would hear about drug abuse and substance abuse and other such challenges everywhere I went.”

Though Clinton let others do the majority of the talking, she pledged to make substance abuse a prominent issue in her campaign. With the help of medical professionals and substance abuse advocates, she is beginning to develop policies to offer those with addiction and other mental illnesses proper care.

As of late, many are critical of policies that punish and imprison those with addictions and other mental health problems. Clinton said, mental health issues and substance abuse issues should be treated within the public health domain, as opposed to criminal.

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Zachary Siegel is a freelance journalist specializing in science, health and drug policy. His reporting has also appeared in Slate, The Daily Beast, Salon, Huffington Post, among others. He writes often about addiction, sometimes drawing from his own experience. You can find out more about Zachary on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.