'There's not much to do out there'

  • Erec Hopkins on work release at the county shop

    Stephen Lyons photo

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

Erec Hopkins, 20 years old, is serving a year of work release for third-degree sexual assault. He works 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. four days a week at the Whitman County shop, where he assists in maintaining county vehicles. When he's not on work release, he lives behind bars at the Whitman County Jail.

Erec Hopkins: "I grew up in Palouse and there's not much to do out there.

"I used to ride bulls and ride horses, and do all that stuff. Then I'd get into the bad friends for a while and I wouldn't wear my Wranglers or boots and I'd start doing drugs. But when I was with the cowboys, I wouldn't do drugs. I kinda went back and forth. I got teased a lot about it, too, because one day I'd wear my Wranglers to school and then the next day I'd wear baggy pants and I'd be all stoned in school.

"I started using pot when I was 15, and drinking. That's where it started and then eventually got into trying cocaine and acid and "shrooms. I started doing meth when I was 18 and I was on the run from Whitman County here. My uncle is a big dopehead, and I went over to Seattle and that's when I first started doing it. Just snorting it and smoking it. (I've injected meth) for, like, the last year. One of my friends was doing it and actually, not this last New Year's Eve, but the New Year's Eve before then (1998) - that's when I started slamming dope and I did for about a year straight.

"Almost every day I'd hitchhike up to Spokane and pick up an ounce of dope or whatever and bring it down and sell it down here, make my money, and go back up and get more. I would make two grand off of an ounce.

"There's no way I can blame (my parents). They totally brought me up in a different way. They come visit me every Sunday. They're behind me 100 percent. They want me to straighten my shit up and start doing right. They're sick of seeing their son in jail."

Copyright © 2000 HCN and Stephen Lyons

High Country News Classifieds