Dopesick

Dopesick

by

Beth Macy

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Ronnie “D.C.” Jones Character Analysis

Ronnie Jones is a Black man in his 30s who is the head dealer in a heroin ring that runs drugs along Interstate 81, from Harlem to Woodstock, Virginia. Jones is the one who sells the heroin that kills Kristi Fernandez’s son Jesse Bolstridge (although later in prison, he doesn’t specifically remember Jesse). Author Beth Macy interviews Jones in prison, hoping that his story will help tie up loose ends about the opioid epidemic in western Virginia. While Jones can’t provide closure for Fernandez’s story, his experiences do help Macy explore the role of race in the opioid crisis. Jones was in and out of prison starting at an early age. His lack of support after he got out of prison, particularly his difficulties with finding well-paying work, is a large part of what motivated him to start dealing heroin. His brother, Thomas, who grew up with Ronnie, goes on to be an internationally famous rapper, suggesting that maybe Jones too could have had a bright future in different circumstances. When Jones starts dealing, he predicts that he’ll last three to six months, and his prediction ends up being exactly right. After Jones is caught, he doesn’t snitch or offer much in the way of remorse, suggesting that he always knew the potential consequences of his dealing and is willing to face them. Jones’ arrest does little to cut off the supply of heroin in western Virginia—in fact, soon after, fentanyl comes to the region, bringing even more overdoses. Ultimately, while Jones is a flawed person, Macy realizes that he bears much less personal responsibility for the opioid epidemic than people in the pharmaceutical industry, like the Sackler family.

Ronnie “D.C.” Jones Quotes in Dopesick

The Dopesick quotes below are all either spoken by Ronnie “D.C.” Jones or refer to Ronnie “D.C.” Jones. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Poverty as an Obstacle to Recovery  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Back Bay Books edition of Dopesick published in 2018.
Chapter 7 Quotes

In the picturesque Shenandoah Valley town of Woodstock, more than two hours north of Roanoke, bulk heroin cut in a Harlem lab had just made its way down I-81. It was the last thing Shenandoah County sergeant Brent Lutz, a Woodstock native, would have expected to find himself doing: stalking a major heroin dealer. But here he was, at all hours of the day and night, clutching a pair of binoculars while crouched in the upstairs bedroom of his cousin’s house a few miles outside of town. He’d spent so much time there in recent days that the mile-wide stench of chicken entrails coming from George’s Chicken across the road no longer bothered him.

Related Characters: Brent Lutz, Ronnie “D.C.” Jones
Related Symbols: Interstate 81
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

Later that day, when Metcalf finally got his first close-up look at Ronnie Jones in a county jail interviewing room in Front Royal, he found him to be “very smug, very arrogant.”

The feeling was mutual. “He was very aggressive; he harassed people,” Jones said of Metcalf. Jones hated him for delivering a subpoena to the mother of his oldest child—at work, embarrassing and intimidating her, he said—and for interviewing Jones’s mom.

Related Characters: Bill Metcalf (speaker), Ronnie “D.C.” Jones (speaker)
Related Symbols: Interstate 81
Page Number: 166
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

By 2014, the suburban heroin-dealing scene had become entrenched in Roanoke’s McMansion subdivisions and poor neighborhoods alike. But the largest dealers weren’t twice-convicted felons like Ronnie Jones with elaborate dope-cutting schemes, multiple cars, and hired mules. They were local users, many of them female, dispatched to buy the heroin from a bulk dealer out of state, in exchange for a cut. And they were as elusive as hell to catch.

Related Symbols: Interstate 81
Page Number: 189
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

I hoped the stories of Ronnie Jones and his victims would illuminate the ruts in both a criminal justice system that pursues a punishment-fits-all plan when the truth is much more complicated and a strained medical system that overtreats people with painkillers until the moment addiction sets in—and health care scarcity becomes the rule.

I hoped, too, that my interview with Jones would help answer Kristi Fernandez’s questions about what led to her son Jesse’s premature death. Was Ronnie Jones really the monster that law enforcement officials made him out to be? Had the statewide corrections behemoth that returns two thousand ex-offenders a year to Virginia’s cities, counties, and towns played a role in his revolving door of failures?

Page Number: 252
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Dopesick LitChart as a printable PDF.
Dopesick PDF

Ronnie “D.C.” Jones Character Timeline in Dopesick

The timeline below shows where the character Ronnie “D.C.” Jones appears in Dopesick. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
...a federal prison just outside of Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, the imprisoned former drug dealer Ronnie Jones has his first visitor: the author of Dopesick, Beth Macy. Jones is in the... (full context)
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
During their early communication, which takes place over Jones’s prison-monitored email, Jones is skeptical about talking to Macy. Eventually, he agrees to communicate with... (full context)
Cycles of History Theme Icon
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
The Value of Science Theme Icon
Within a week of Macy’s interview with Jones, a batch of heroin comes to Huntington, West Virginia (four hours away from Jones’s cell),... (full context)
Poverty as an Obstacle to Recovery  Theme Icon
Cycles of History Theme Icon
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
The epidemic didn’t reach the Shenandoah Valley (where the dealer Ronnie Jones lived) until 2012. There, the epidemic followed the same pattern as elsewhere: users began... (full context)
Poverty as an Obstacle to Recovery  Theme Icon
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
To get to Ronnie Jones, Macy takes Interstate 81, dubbed a “heroin highway” by some, and she goes in... (full context)
Chapter 7
Cycles of History Theme Icon
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
...there is a major heroin supplier out there who is known only by his nickname: D.C. (full context)
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
By spring 2013, Lutz has not yet learned the real name of the supplier nicknamed D.C. He has, however, learned some other important details: D.C. is Black and in his mid-30s,... (full context)
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
D.C. doesn’t do heroin himself; he is only interested in the money. Though his supply comes... (full context)
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
Late in March 2013, Lutz gets a new clue about D.C. A routine traffic stop catches Devon Gray, who is one of D.C.’s key distributors. Gray... (full context)
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
...excessive drug enforcement, particularly against users, high-level and violent dealers remain a target, and the D.C. case seems to qualify. Gray is mid-level and may be useful as a witness, although... (full context)
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Gray reveals that D.C.’s real name is Ronnie Jones. It turns out he isn’t the only dealer in the... (full context)
Cycles of History Theme Icon
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
Jones’s case becomes the most complex one that Metcalf has ever worked on. They make charts... (full context)
Chapter 8
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When Ronnie Jones is arrested in June 2013, the moment is almost anticlimactic. One of his main... (full context)
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At the raid of Jones’s apartment, although Jones has fled, Lutz and the other officers arrest Marie, a user-dealer associated... (full context)
Cycles of History Theme Icon
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When Metcalf and Jones first meet, while Jones is in county jail, Metcalf thinks Jones is “very smug, very... (full context)
Cycles of History Theme Icon
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
Despite their mutual hatred, Metcalf and Jones have some things in common. Metcalf’s own father was a heroin trafficker who was arrested... (full context)
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
Mack, the New York bulk heroin supplier for Jones, is still out there. Shaw’s side of Jones’s heroin ring is also still operating, and... (full context)
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Metcalf interrogates Jones, trying to find out who Mack is. Jones remains defiant and is even caught trying... (full context)
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
Fighting the Medical Establishment Theme Icon
...him. Wolthuis and Santiago’s lawyer work out a plea deal that the judge approves. While Jones received a 23-year prison sentence and Shaw received an 18-year sentence for cooperating, Santiago gets... (full context)
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
The Value of Science Theme Icon
The end of the Jones/Shaw heroin ring doesn’t change things for users like Dennis. Despite several attempts to get clean,... (full context)
Chapter 12
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
Fighting the Medical Establishment Theme Icon
Macy hopes that interviewing the dealer Ronnie Jones will help reveal the connections between addiction, the criminal justice system, and the medical... (full context)
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
Ronnie, 39 at the time Macy visits him, remains guarded at first but polite. Jones has... (full context)
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Ronnie had been in prison twice before his current 23-year sentence. Despite even many law enforcement... (full context)
Cycles of History Theme Icon
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Ronnie didn’t have this level of support when he first got out of prison—all he had... (full context)
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
The Value of Science Theme Icon
Macy wonders how Ronnie Jones’s life would be different if he’d had help from people like the ones who... (full context)
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Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
Ronnie’s criminal history began with a felony grand larceny charge before his senior year of high... (full context)
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Thomas Jones, Ronnie’s brother, recalls how as a kid, Ronnie could be difficult but generally wasn’t bad.... (full context)
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Ronnie grew up in Virginia’s Section 8 housing until a fight between him and his brother... (full context)
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Ronnie recalls that he never did any drugs, and only drank on his birthday and New... (full context)
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Ronnie finishes high school in jail, then takes computer-repair classes, getting certified. Ronnie gets out of... (full context)
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In 2010, Thomas gets a call that Ronnie is locked up again, this time for credit card fraud. This charge eventually sends Ronnie... (full context)
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Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
Thomas is on tour when he gets the news that Ronnie will be serving a 23-year federal prison sentence. Thomas himself has never had legal trouble... (full context)
Poverty as an Obstacle to Recovery  Theme Icon
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
Back in 2012, when Ronnie first arrived in Woodstock, he was charmed by small-town touches, like when drivers waved to... (full context)
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Ronnie rationalizes his drug-selling by figuring that if users are going to buy anyway, they may... (full context)
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Ronnie recalls how he didn’t want to end up like his father. Though he didn’t develop... (full context)
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After speaking with Ronnie, Macy drives back to Roanoke, too tired to visit Kristi Fernandez in Woodstock. She dreads... (full context)
Poverty as an Obstacle to Recovery  Theme Icon
Cycles of History Theme Icon
Race, Healthcare, and Criminal Justice Theme Icon
...dead user’s dealer in order to chase a higher high). A day after Macy interviews Ronnie, she finally tells Kristi that Ronnie doesn’t even recognize Jesse’s name. (full context)
Epilogue
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Fighting the Medical Establishment Theme Icon
In 2017, both fatal and nonfatal overdoses explode in Roanoke. Ronnie Jones was correct in his prediction that heroin distribution wouldn’t stop with him in jail,... (full context)