Drug Courts Keeping People in Jail Longer Than Their “Sanctions,” Lawsuit Alleges Due Process, Other Rights Violations

"from room to room stand gatekeepers, each more powerful than the other"The Indiana Lawyer has an
interesting piece focusing on lawsuits against drug courts in the
state. It begins

Destiny Hoffman furnished a diluted drug screen and was
sanctioned with a 48-hour stay in the Clark County Jail. She wasn’t
freed for another five months.

Jason O’Connor was given a 30-day drug court sanction on June 20 of
last year, but he lingered behind bars in Jeffersonville until Jan.
24 – more than 180 days longer.

Nathan S. Clifford also was detained months longer than he should
have been.

They’re not the only ones.

“I would anticipate we’re going to find more of these,” said Nathan
Masingo, a public defender who represented Hoffman until she
pleaded guilty to a Class D felony possession of a controlled
substance charge last year and was diverted to drug court. As is
customary after someone enters drug court, Masingo then withdrew
from the case. He knew nothing of Hoffman’s protracted

Masingo tells the Indiana Lawyer it seems that drug courts
operate under the mistaken premise that defendants in drug court
have waived their due process rights. The lawsuit by Hoffman,
O’Connor, Clifford, and at least three others, allege a violation
of due process rights and the right to representation by a lawyer.
There may be criminal charges related to the alleged abuses as
well, according to the Indiana Lawyer, which reports that Clark
County’s prosecutor has petitioned for a special prosecutor “to
avoid the appearance of impropriety during any further
investigation.” That special prosecutor was appointed
last week
, and last month the drug court’s director was

by the judge who created the program. Attorneys the
Indiana Lawyer spoke to say the practice of unlawful, extended
detentions is widespread in the drug court system.

Read the entire Indiana Lawyer piece
, and Reason on the bipartisan push for rights-violating
drug courts

Semi-related: Franz Kafka on the U.S.
legal system

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