In Memorium: Jack Dale Collins

Who was Jackie Collins? We don’t know. His neighbors were the birds in the bushes. Alcoholism had taken its toll on his family, his friends, his home, his property, his ability to work, his ability to conform to orders from authorities.

How did he spend his hours? What did he think of in the morning? What where his happy memories? When was a time he was proud and fulfilled? Did he leave children behind?

Jack Dale Collins

Jack Dale Collins

Maybe nobody really knows.

Our condolences to the friends and family Jack Dale Collins left behind. But we suspect they’re not surprised by his unexpected and tragic end.

Did Collins die from four bullets, bought with the public trust, fired by a public employee, directed by public policy? Or did he die from late-stage alcoholism? To Collins, it no longer matters.

It should matter to us, because the gulf between “justifiable” and “just” in our community is wide and, when the Portland Police Bureau is involved, there is no bridge.

No one in Portland who knows the history of our justice system was surprised to hear a trial is unnecessary to determine Jason Walters was within his rights to shoot and kill Jack Collins on March 22. Collins had sought psychiatric help from the police eleven days earlier, and perhaps was in a psychiatrically distressed state, evidenced by the cuts to his throat and face. Friends interviewed by reporters described Collins as a person who cut himself to allay anxiety and depression.

Like the district attorney does have the tools or will to bring justice, our community mental health and addictions clinics don’t have the will or the funding to provide treatment for people like Jack Dale Collins. Minimal services are available for persons who have insurance, and who are both willing and able to comply with the minimal services offered. Often, for persons who are really sick everything and anything is a barrier to sobriety.

Here’s the truth. Hollywood has created a false impression of alcoholics as rascals, mischievous, creative, going through a stubborn phase of delayed development. Here’s another truth. Lots and lots of people die from alcoholism. Our Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions talks about the inevitability of “jails, institutions and death.” That’s what happens to people who don’t get help and get sober. No one helped Jackie Collins.

READ – The Life and Death of Jack Dale Collins, by Sarah Mirk of The Portland Mercury, April 1, 2010
READ – Grand jury finds no criminal wrongdoing in Portland police shooting at Hoyt Arboretum, The Oregonian, April 1, 2010