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Home > Publications > Quill > Winner: WLOX-TV


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Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Winner: WLOX-TV

“Home Sweet Meth Home”

Jim Poyser

You can’t see it, but we’re finding it. Remnants of toxic chemicals used to make meth … anhydrous ammonia, lithium, sodium hydroxide … once filled these rooms, coating every inch of a house.

Years later, the meth is still there.

Could you be living in a former meth lab? That’s the question “Home Sweet Meth Home” posed to thousands of families throughout southern Mississippi. Some of these families, in fact, had already lost everything during Hurricane Katrina and now were at risk of losing their home a second time in just two years.

The meth epidemic, according to WLOX-TV reporter Keli Rabon, “has swept the nation and has hit the Magnolia State particularly hard. I work as a one-man-band bureau reporter in Jackson County, and nearly every week I report on meth lab busts. I began to wonder what happened to these homes after the bust, and once I saw new families moving into these meth labs, I knew something wasn’t right.”

In Mississippi and many other states, former meth homes can be bought and sold without the new owner ever knowing about their home’s drug manufacturing history. “The state’s lack of disclosure and clean-up laws present a dangerous situation to the public’s health, putting thousands of families across the state at risk of living in a former meth lab,” Rabon said.

Judges cited the series as “well researched, shot, reported and edited. This series does a terrific and thorough job of showing how a homeowner can feel the impact and takes a look at what happens after the authorities clear the scene. Who knew that the consequences of a meth lab could live on in a home and impact the lives of the new owners? Apparently, the staff of WLOX did and wanted others to know.”

Since the series aired in November, state lawmakers have taken notice and are drafting a bill for the 2008 session to set meth cleanup guidelines and disclosure rules for buyers and renters. “This means my report will not only have touched the people in my viewing area, it will benefit everyone across the state of Mississippi,” Rabon said.

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