|Photo: Amanda/Creative Commons|
Georgia resident Ashley Gabrielle Huff, age 23, was a passenger in a car traveling on July 2 when cops pulled the car over.
A vigilant and brave officer spotted a spoon in the car leading him to surmise the only thing surmisable – she likely heads up her own methamphetamine lab.
It didn’t matter that she adamantly claimed that there was “no way in hell” it was drug residue. She was arrested by Gainesville Police Department for suspicion of having meth residue on a spoon – no prior drug charges.
Yes, she finally had these drug charges dropped, but only after a thorough lab analysis detected – well, not meth, on the “drug paraphernalia.” It was indeed SpaghettiO sauce. In the meantime, she was left to wait in jail for over a month – possibly over half the summer.
She had initially tried going through the Hall County Drug Court to stay out of jail but couldn’t make all the appointments – she was reincarcerated on Aug 2 (for another 47 days) and unable to make the bond payment. From July 2 through September 18th when she was finally released after the district attorney’s office finally filed a dismissal following the lab report – it is unclear exactly how much time she spent in jail.
Her public defender, Chris van Rossem, however, has demonstrated the saddest part of the story – a testament to the failure of the “War on Drugs” and the increasingly profitable prison privatization industry (if she had buckled and “confessed”). He was a part of that story, for he had attempted to help her with a plea bargain, and trace amounts of controlled substances in Georgia are punishable by 2-15 years in prison.
I think what the unfortunate part about her case is that 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.
In other words, how many innocent people have plea bargained in the past to avoid rotting in jail? But then what happens?
Barry Donegan writes:
Prior to her release, Huff’s attorney had chosen to move forward with a plea bargain, despite her innocence, in an effort to get her out of jail as quickly as possible. In the article “The Case Against Plea Bargaining,” Timothy Lynch from The Cato Institute argued that plea bargains themselves encourage prosecutors to threaten defendants with terrifying charges in an effort to get them to waive their right to a trial, noting that over 90% of criminal cases are never tried before a jury.
This example of the justice system is like a cat-and-mouse waiting game, where the cats have time on their side as the mouse remains locked up.
Huff is now considering legal action for malicious prosecution and unlawful arrest.
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