Judge who’s also a funeral director sees devastating impact of drug use

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Few people see the impact of the opioid crisis in Tennessee more vividly than Gale Robinson.

Robinson is a Davidson County General Sessions Court judge by morning, and by afternoon he runs the Phillips Robinson Funeral Home. He is the third generation of Robinson to run the family business.

Sadly, in both of his professions, Robinson sees the devastating effects of the drug epidemic.

As judge, he presides over a courtroom where many of the defendants are addicted to drugs. As a funeral home owner, he has to bury people that didn’t get the help they needed.

“Devastating. It’s devastating to have to sit down with a grieving family to bury a child that has made a decision to use an opiate,” said Robinson.

“It is a difficult, difficult situation,” he added. “More and more, in both places, the funeral industry and the court system, we are seeing the overwhelming effect of opiate usage.”

Robinson agrees with President Donald Trump’s decision to declare the crisis a “national emergency.”

Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell also agrees. Earlier in the year, Harwell created a legislative task force to address the opioid and opiate problem in Tennessee.

She hopes the declaration of emergency frees up federal resources so states can tackle the issue.

“I would encourage and urge the federal government and President Trump to give us the flexibility,” said Speaker Harwell. “Don’t tie our hands. Let us try innovative ideas to address the problem.”

Harwell says the solution might be expensive, but treating people for addiction is much cheaper than putting them in prison.