Media Truth

Crime Up Across Wise County Virginia

by Lewis Loflin

One of the few things Bristol Virginia-Tennessee once had going for it was the absence of urban crime. While the community in the social sense ranks with Indian reservation and inner city slums on social demographics - high levels of illiteracy, poverty, lack of jobs and substance abuse - we were spared out of control crime that comes with these problems. Not anymore.

Beginning in 2011 this all changed with a massive uptick of drug busts - in particular meth, bath salts, prescription drug abuse - with frequent armed robberies of pharmacies and property crime. No doubt the two are directly related as overflowing jails have led to funding fights and backed-up court dockets. Wise County is one small example. is reporting this January 15, 2014 Criminal case overload in Wise County. To quote,

The criminal cases keep coming in to circuit court clerk's office. Despite new technology enabling lawyers to file electronically, the cases are increasing. "34 percent. We've gone from roughly from 2,700 criminal prosecution cases in 2012 to the prosecution or initiation of about 4,100 in 2013," Wise County circuit court clerk Jack Kennedy said.

Commonwealth's Attorney Ron Elkins points to one reason for the increase in criminal court cases. "We certainly relate a lot of what we are seeing in my office to the downturn in the economy with the coal business locally and layoffs," he said. "We've seen a significant increase in what we call property crimes, theft crimes."

Yet they just spent millions in economic development grants on an energy research center and $12 million on the Wise Inn. Results - zero other than spending the government largess. The money stays in the government loop - the working poor are barred.

Wise County during this time spent $30 million to build a new convocation center for the University of Virginia Wise campus, $20 million for a pork-barrel energy research center, $12 million to refurbish the rotting Wise Inn, etc. none which offer any real opportunity to the average person as the coal industry is once again taking a beating.

These projects were sold on the claim they would "diversify" the economy away from coal, but the benefits apply only to our narrow ruling class. None of the projects offers anything to those displaced from local industries - even though the funding was taken for this problem to pay for it.

Once again social apartheid rears its ugly head as the local elite remain isolated and aloof from the average citizen they are supposed to be serving.

What do community leaders have to say? According to Kevin Crutchfield, President Alpha Natural Resources, January 15, 2009 in Abingdon, VA:

"It's a little-known fact that roughly 20 percent of the children in Southwest Virginia live below the poverty line and go hungry every night."

Alpha enjoyed a sweet $16 million corporate welfare package to move their offices a few miles from Abingdon to Bristol. The promised jobs and prosperity evaporated as layoffs rock the coal industry.