A win for the human spirit

This story is amazing. It's what journalism is all about. Please take time to read selected excerpts and reflect on how blessed we all are.

Copyright 1980 The Washington Post
The Washington Post

September 28, 1980, Sunday, Final Edition
Correction Appended

SECTION: First Section; A1

LENGTH: 1955 words

8-Year-Old Heroin Addict Lives for a Fix

BYLINE: By Janet Cooke, Washington Post Staff Writer

Jimmy is 8 years old and a third-generation heroin addict, a precocious little boy with sandy hair, velvety brown eyes and needle marks freckling the baby-smooth skin of his thin brown arms.

He nestles in a large, beige reclining chair in the living room of his comfortably furnished home in Southeast Washington. There is an almost cherubic expression on his small, round face as he talks about life -- clothes, money, the Baltimore Orioles and heroin. He has been an addict since the age of 5...

... Six months later, Jimmy was hooked. "I felt like I was part of what was goin' down," he says. "I can't really tell you how it feel. You never done any? Sort of like them rides at King's Dominion . . . like if you was to go on all of them in one day.

"It be real different from herb (marijuana). That's baby s---. Don't nobody here hardly ever smoke no herb. You can't hardly get none right now anyway."

Jimmy's mother Andrea accepts her son's habit as a fact of life, although she will not inject the child herself and does not like to see others do it.

... "Drugs and black folk been together for a very long time."...

... She never knew her father. Like her son, Andrea spent her childhood with her mother and the man with whom she lived for 15 years. She recalls that her mother's boyfriend routinely forced her and her younger sister to have sex with him, and Jimmy is the product of one of those rapes.

Depressed and discouraged after his birth ("I didn't even name him, you know? My sister liked the name Jimmy and I said 'OK, call him that, who gives a fu--? I guess we got to call him something, don't we?'") she quickly accepted the offer of heroin from a woman who used to shoot up with her mother.

... He grabs Jimmy's left arm just above the elbow, his massive hand tightly encircling the child's small limb. The needle slides into the boy's soft skin like a straw pushed into the center of a freshly baked cake. Liquid ebbs out of the syringe, replaced by bright red blood. The blood is then reinjected into the child.

Jimmy has closed his eyes during the whole procedure, but now he opens them, looking quickly around the room. He climbs into a rocking chair and sits, his head dipping and snapping upright again, in what addicts call "the nod."

"Pretty soon, man," Ron says, "you got to learn how to do this for yourself."

CORRECTION-DATE: January 17, 2001

The above article is not factually correct and is a fabrication by the author. For a detailed account of how it came to be published by The Washington Post, please see the article by Bill Green, then the newspaper's reader ombudsman, published in The Post on April 19, 1981.

GRAPHIC: Illustration, no caption, By Michael Gnatek Jr. for The Washington Post


Madcap said...

Ms. Cooke ended up making around $750,000 for the movie rights to her story. JBM should keep that in mind. If he has trouble living like a journalist. Just make up some shit and then sell the story. Brilliant!

Anonymous said...

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