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When you do what I do, you begin to notice certain faces returning, and you see changes with certain people, especially if they're using particular drugs, methamphetamine being one that has a distinct deteriorating effect on somebody's physical appearance. It really destroys them, and it's obvious. ...

Some people I have in here over 100 times, and I can look over a 10-, 15-, 20-year period and see how they've deteriorated, how they've changed. Some were quite attractive when they began to come to jail, young people who were full of health and had everything going for them -- intelligent, probably very skilled at what they did, or good students or good athletes -- and now they're a shell of what they once were. ...

One of the video histories that probably gets the most attention in this project ["Faces of Meth"] is the case of Theresa Baxter. The first time when she came into this jail and I was sitting at this very desk, she was quite visibly intoxicated by methamphetamine. She looked horrible. She looked at least 20 years older than she was. Her face was very wrinkled. Her skin was very thin. The quality of her hair was really bad. It was broken and brittle and had a lot of gray in it for her age. Her eyes were sunken. She had a big sore on her face with a bandage over it. Her teeth were missing, so her bones were sagging. And I looked back in her history, and at one time she was a fairly attractive young woman. ...

My peers and I discussed how if a young person could see the transition from one mug shot to another, it may really have an impact on their decision to use these drugs that are so damaging to someone's appearance. ...

We've been really well received. One of the best experiences I had was when I went out to Sellwood Middle School here in Portland, and there were at least 500 people in the audience -- students, PTA, parents, school staff. And those kids were so interested in what I had to show and had so much feedback about how awful the drug was. ...

What I've observed when kids watch my program is they become pretty uncomfortable. ... People cover up their faces. They can't look. ... They feel sick to their stomach. But I think the most visible thing is their facial expression or the verbal utterances they make -- gasps in the audience. I like to see the kids talking about the faces: "Ooh, that's a bad one. Oh, look at that."

... I want that shock value to be there. I want to make an impact that lasts with these people. I want them to not forget what they've seen.

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posted feb. 14, 2006

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