It was a simple case really. The police stopped a woman and her daughter claiming they failed to stop at a stop sign. The officer claimed he saw the daughter put something under the seat and later discovered it was a wallet. In the wallet (ignore the illegal search for now), he found some baggies that he claimed had drug residue. I say claim because he never field tested the bags, or sent them to the lab for testing.
When I met my client, she was in jail. On the day of the hearing, she was in jail. Today, she is likely still in jail. Why? Because she's broke. You see, she was on probation a while ago for a minor offense. She completed the time and should have been home free, but she isn't because she couldn't afford the probation fees. She is also without health insurance, has a need for mental health medication and is afraid that she will relapse to using illegal drugs since she can't afford medication. Her probation officer issued a detainer and now she can't go free, even if she could afford the bail because of the old probation case.
As unjust as it seems, it is even more unjust since the officer had no legal right to stop her and he NEVER even tested for the drugs that she is accused of possessing. The District Judge dropped the possession charge. Now she is only facing paraphernalia charges for the baggies that may or may not have been used for drugs at one time. She's sitting in JAIL. JAIL for baggies with no drugs because long ago she couldn't afford to pay her probation fees. We have got to do better!
By Jacquie L. Jones
Join us on a journey of discovery as we explore issues of custody, criminality, and Probate especially in Delaware County, PA.