Back in February, a report revealed that a group of 100 homeless, prolific offenders in Seattle were responsible for 3,500 court cases, most involving petty crime. When the report was released 20 of the top 100 were in jail and 80 were on the street. But since then, 67 of the 80 who were on the street have been arrested again. These are people whose entire lives revolve around feeding a drug habit.
One of the 100 people mentioned in that report is Travis Berge who goes by the street name Travel Tron. Travel Tron is apparently quite a colorful character and has some musical talent as well as a fair amount of personal charm. Unfortunately, he also has a meth habit which gets him into trouble. He was free when the report was released but he’s since been arrested:
“I love methamphetamines,” Berge said in a February interview. At that point, he been booked into the jail 46 times and had been convicted of 34 various crimes, mostly misdemeanors…
Berge’s latest return to jail began on March 14, a month after the report was released. Surveillance video caught Berge at first trying to break a big plate glass window of the Joshua Green Building in downtown Seattle in the middle of the night.
After failing to break the cameras with a stick, Berge returns a couple hours later with a big rock and succeeds in breaking the window.
He admitted what he’d done to a security guard and was arrested. His public defender asked a judge to give him drug treatment instead of jail time. The judge released him but ordered him to check in daily with a treatment facility called the Community Center for Alternative Programs every day. Instead, Berge went to the center at night and broke their windows. He was arrested again and this time sent to jail. In a jailhouse interview he apologized for killing Seattle, a reference to the news special about homeless drug addicts in the city, and told KOMO News he had a new plan to deal with his addiction:
“For the first time I have the will and the desire to change — which is something I never had before. Sorry that I killed Seattle,” says Berge.
“I got the Travel Tron new leaf program — I’m just trying to turn around my life, never try to come back to jail, never try to commit another crime.”…
Travis believes he can kick his meth habit on his own and switch to Adderall, a drug he says he’s had before when he was young. He would take it 25 days of the month if he was allowed to use meth 5 days a month.
“Maybe go on a bender for 5 days straight so I can have that energy, that is really the only compromise I would accept,” says Travis.
I would say that Travis doesn’t seem to understand how this works but actually, he does understand it. He knows that with a few empty promises like this plan for a meth diet with cheat days, he can probably get a short sentence next week on the window breaking. And then he’ll be right back on the carousel, stealing, getting arrested, and set free again and again.
Travis got it wrong. He’s not killing Seattle. He’s just killing himself. What’s killing Seattle is the failed system that keeps putting him back on the street.
Here’s Travis six years ago in a San Francisco subway: