Wednesday, October 1, 2014

SpaghettiOs On A Spoon Kept Woman In Jail For A Month

This woman did not possess methamphetamines or
any other illegal drugs, but she did make the
mistake of eating SpaghettiOs in a car.  
A woman spent a month in jail on felony drug charges because she was a bit sloppy:

There was a little food residue on a spoon Ashley Gabrielle Huff, 23, had in a car. She'd eaten some SpaghettiOs with the spoon.

But in a case that really gets my outrage going, a cop decided it was methamphetamine residue on the spoon and arrested her back on July 2, says the Gainesville (Georgia) Times. 

Interesting, reporters tried to get the original arrest report in the case but have so far been unsuccessful, even though arrests records are public record.

I can only conclude the Gainsville Police Department has something to hide and is trying to make the negative publicity go away.

Even though Huff knew she was guilty of only eating SpaghettiOs and did not do anything involving drugs, she figured the deck was so stacked against her that she was going to go in for a plea deal.

Says the Gainsville Times:

"Huff originally attempted going through the Hall County Drug Court but wasn't able to make all the appointments, (Hall County Assistant Public Defender Chris) van Rossem said. Huff was then reincarcerated Aug. 2 and was unable to make the bond payment.

"I think what the unfortunate part about her case is she was probably willing to take the felony to close out her case so that she get out of jail, even though she always maintained innocence," van Rossem said."

OK, there are all sorts of problems here. I though we were presumed innocent until proven guilty, so why was she in  jail and why was she being pressured to take a plea deal?

How long does it take to test SpaghettiO residue for signs of drugs? Somebody was pretty slow here.

Why was it important to keep her in jail, when it would have been cheaper to let her out on bond, with conditions? Yeah, she couldn't make the bond payment at one point, but arrangements could have been made.

Taxpayers got a raw deal, too. They kept Huff in jail, at taxpayer expense. It's a lot more costly to keep someone in jail than to keep them out, when that's possible.

So what were they trying to accomplish by keeping Huff in jail so long?

I'm not so sure Huff's case is isolated. In fact, I know it isn't.

Here's a for instance: Some Mississippi counties keep people awaiting trial in jail for months, prompting a class action lawsuit from the ACLU.

The ACLU says the Scott County sheriff, district attorney and judges after learning the Scott County Detention Center has held people for as long as a year without appointing counsel or indicting them.

"The county's practices violate the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments' rights to counsel, to a speedy trial and to a fair bail hearing," says the ACLU

According to Mississippi News Now, The Scott County Sheriff says one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit has a federal charge hanging over him, which keeps him in jail, and the other has two felony charges pending.

Still, even if the plaintiffs are eventually found guilty, should they sit in jail without a quick indictment, or a bail hearing, or trial, or something? If they are eventually found guilty, sure, lock 'em up, but let's at least have a fair legal process.

But screw the Constitution if local politicians can claim, probably falsely, that keeping suspects in jail saves taxpayer money. Or something.  

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