Submitted by Howard B. Owens on July 11, 2012 - 10:23pm
Up until Friday, Melissa Broadbent thought her brother Bradley was really turning his life around.
He had a job, he was trying to do the best he could by his son, within the limits of court orders and the demands of the child's mother.
Then, seemingly overnight, and just three months removed from his last prison term, Bradley Broadbent discovered "Amped," a form of bath salts that is reportedly sold at a shop in Batavia.
"Previous to that day, he was doing well for himself," Melissa said. "He worked in a flower shop, he gained better employment, he was trying to become a good member of society."
Last Friday, Bradley thrust himself into local headlines when he climbed atop the roof of a home on Hutchins Street and then began jumping from roof to roof, yelling something about the police being after him.
He was taken by Mercy EMS to UMMC for evaluation, but that night, Bradley reportedly fled the hospital and went to his ex-wife's house on Tracy Avenue and entered her home.
That action led to a charge of burglary in the second degree.
"I don't believe anybody should be selling it," Melissa said. "For some people it’s a high, but for other people something doesn’t quite click and it’s not safe to us and the rest of the world."
If convicted of the burglary charge, it would be Bradley's third strike and mean from 20 years to life in prison.
And that's what has Melissa Broadbent most concerned.
She thinks the system has failed her brother. And the failure of the system, she said, was never more apparent than it was on Friday.
Melissa said when she came across Bradley that morning, she could tell he was high and learned from a friend that he had allegedly ingested bath salts, a substance for which she had no real prior knowledge.
She said she tried contacting her brother's parole officer, but he was on vacation and nobody from the parole office "bothered," as she put it, to call her back.
A call back and an effort to pick him up might have meant the entire Friday would have gone completely different for her brother, she said.
Then, after her brother was taken to UMMC, Melissa wonders why he was lightly restrained at the hospital. Melissa believes he should have been shackled by handcuffs so he couldn't escape until he came down off his high.
Then there's the issue of the burglary charge for entering his ex-wife's home.
"She was leaving a key in the mailbox for him," Broadbent said. "How was he supposed to know he wasn’t supposed to come in that day?"
Now that Melissa has gotten a quick personal and Google-search lesson in bath salts, she is perplexed why the substance is so easily available in Batavia and why anybody in good conscience would sell the substance to another human being.
"There's a chemical in it, a specific chemical, that makes you come out of your element and makes you do things you would not normally do," Melissa said. "It is not safe, not for anybody, not for the person doing it and nor for the person walking down the street.
"There's no way to test for it. People who want to find a mental escape, they're going to do it because it's legal and it's so easy to get. It needs to come off the street before somebody dies."
Bradley Broadbent was first arrested, she said, on a robbery charge when he was 16. He and a partner stole one dollar from a store and Broadbent spent eight years in prison.
When he came out, Melissa said, he was a changed person. He was anti-social, didn't know how to interact with people, distrusted everyone and was hostile to people he met for the first time.
The family wanted to help him, they said, so in the hope of getting him into treatment, they provided information to law enforcement that led to his arrest. Rather than receiving treatment, however, she said Broadbent was sent back to prison.
"That didn't help him at all," she said. "That made him worse."
Now, with a possible third strike, Melissa is worried the system will once again come down hard on him and send him to prison for the rest of his life.
She hopes, somehow, someway, the system will do better than that by her brother.
"He is in need of mental care," Melissa said. "We know him. The people who know him, know he needs that. The system doesn’t know him. They don’t know he needs that and the system doesn’t care. That’s what I would like to see happen. My brother needs mental care. He needs help mentally. He doesn't know how to handle himself emotionally or mentally."
She isn't of a mind to sugarcoat any of the things Bradley has been accused of doing in the past. She just wants the best outcome for her brother.
"I don’t defend anything my brother has ever done," she said. "If he’s wrong, he’s wrong."
The rapid lessons in bath salts has made her very afraid of what the presence of the substance means for Batavia. She's worried -- more certain -- that not enough will be done soon enough about bath salts.
"It seems nothing ever gets done until it's the absolute worst and then people open their eyes and do something," she said.
Nicole Lang, the mother of another person whose life is allegedly being harmed by bath salts has said she's ready to set up a picket and a protest of a local shop allegedly selling the now controlled substance.
"I’m with her," Melissa said. "I’m all with her. The people selling this stuff, they’re not dealing with the consequences. Yet the people who love their family are the people who have been tainted by the effects of it."