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At least four claim being forgotten in southern Indiana jail

Posted by Steven H. Fagan | Feb 03, 2014 | 0 Comments

I came across a disturbing news report recently which talked about a Jeffersonville, Ind. woman who was sentenced to serve 48 hours in the Clark County Jail, but ended up serving 3,696 hours or 154 days. The excuse provided by county officials was that the judge presiding over her case simply forgot to sign the order for her release.

A subsequent news report revealed that besides the defendant mentioned above three other people spent months in jail despite being ordered to serve only days or weeks behind bars. Three women and a man, who were participants in the drug court program, reported that they spent months in the county's jail for violations of program rules.

The attorneys at Fagan, Fagan & Davis focus on Illinois criminal defense in Cook County, Lake County and DuPage County. If this individual had been one of our clients, this miscarriage of justice would not have been allowed to continue. A private attorney would have made a big difference, and ended this problem quickly. Her family should have hired a private attorney to deal with this situation.

Destiny Hoffman, 34, was sentenced to 48 hours in the county jail last Aug. 22 by Clark County Circuit Court Judge Jerry Jacobi after probation officials advised him that she had diluted the results of her drug screen, thus she was in violation of the court-ordered treatment program in which she had been ordered to participate.

Apparently, the Court had ordered the she be held without bond "until further order of the court" without a hearing or or the benefit of legal counsel. Five months later Hoffman's release was ordered.

While it is  not clear why Ms Hoffman apparently made no effort to advise officials at the county jail that she was being held for a period longer than the 48 hours ordered by the court Clark County Deputy Prosecutor Michaelia Gilbert began investigating the circumstances of the incarceration during a review of old case files. The prosecutor filed a motion with the court seeking an immediate status hearing, suggesting in the motion that the defendant's  civil liberties had been violated by the term of her incarceration.

During a hearing before Indiana Special Judge Steven Fleece the length of the incarceration was characterized by the judge as a "big screw up." No kidding.

Meanwhile, two employees at the drug court program were placed on unpaid leave after the situation was revealed. Subsequently, the director of the Clark County Drug Court Treatment Program was terminated by Clark County's chief probation officer.

Additionally, a bailiff on the judge's staff remains on an unpaid suspension. The suspensions had followed an investigation conducted in October which reviewed the process in which officials with the drug court program use when making field visits to contact drug court participants. The report of the investigation noted that “wearing police garb, carrying sidearms, making arrests and adding in late evening unannounced home visits ... are leaving the county open for a lawsuit.”

The Indiana State Police initiated its own investigation into drug court personnel and has submitted some documents to the Office of the Clark County Prosecutor to determine if any drug court employees will be charged with criminal activity.

Louisville, Ky., attorney Michael Augustus said he plans to file a federal civil complaint on behalf of the three women, alleging unlawful incarceration and arrest. Those women are Destiny Hoffman, 34; Ashleigh Hendricks-Santiago, 30; and Amy Bennett, 36.

Hendricks-Santiago said she was ordered to the county jail for six days in May for failing a mouth-swab drug screen. She wasn't released until October 2013, a long incarceration that resulted in her losing the Clarksville apartment where she had been living. Bennett said she was jailed in August and "sat for four months" in a cell until she was finally released in December. Bennett said she was held on a warrant seeking to terminate her from the drug court program after she left the program for several months.

Another program participant, Jason Ray O'Connor of Jeffersonville, was released from jail after serving 215 days. He had been ordered to spend 30 days behind bars last June. Both Bennett and Hendricks-Santiago said the drug court treatment program can be a great resource for those suffering from substance abuse but needs to be revamped and restructured.

I must reiterate that if this individual had been a Fagan, Fagan & Davis client, this miscarriage of justice would have been death with swiftly by means of a Habeus Corpus petition under Article I section 9 of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution. Any experienced private criminal defense lawyer would have made a big difference in this situation, and her family should have hired an attorney to step in and help.

The attorneys at Fagan, Fagan & Davis have defended countless clients against Criminal and DUI charges throughout the Chicago area courts, including those located in Cook County, DuPage County and Lake County. The attorneys at Fagan, Fagan & Davis understand which defense strategies are the most effective in court and how to challenge evidence gathered by law enforcement and offered by the prosecution. Contact us now for a free consultation.

About the Author

Steven H. Fagan

Steve Fagan graduated from the University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign with a degree in political science. He earned his law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law. Steve practices law with a single-minded devotion to one thing – the needs and desires of the client.  Steve is a member of the National College for DUI Defense, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, a founding member of the DUI Defense Lawyers Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the DuPage County Bar Association, and has taught other attorneys in Continuing Legal Education courses.

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