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

Indiana drug court under fire


"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 thus:

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 detention.

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 fired 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 here, and Reason on the bipartisan push for rights-violating drug courts here.

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

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  1. but I have it on good authority that sending drug offenders to treatment facilities where they are allowed to leave only when the administrators determine that they are cured of their terrible sickness (or when they remember that they are there) is so much more humane than just locking them in prison.

    So there’s no need to legalize drugs because all the problems with the Drug War are solved.

    1. It’s job creation! Only people who are job-killers could be opposed to drug court.

  2. “‘drug courts”


    Ok, I read the other article. Its a ‘halfway house’ system for drug offenders intended to reduce prison populations by… maintaining people in a perpetual limbo between freedom and arbitrary incarceration?

    This ‘reform’, I think the word needs some study.

    “a way for policymakers to make it look like they’re doing something on the war on drugs without actually addressing the war on drugs.”

    That sounds about right.

  3. …drug courts operate under the mistaken premise that defendants in drug court have waived their due process rights.

    We already know that the Bill of Rights is suspended where the War on Drugs is concerned, so the war’s courts probably have it right.

    1. Listen buddy there’s no due process in war and this most definitely is WAR. It’s right there in the name.

  4. If Darleen Click should show up: Fuck You, Cunt

  5. It has been painfully obvious since their inception that “drug courts” are worst than criminal courts. They were created so that the system can be certain to screw over petty users whose case would normally be dismissed in actual courts.

    1. Let’s not forget acting as job creation for many state agencies, non-profits, and other organizations that suckle at the state teat.

  6. 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.

    No kidding.

    Repent ye of your sins, and surrender yourself to the True Church.

  7. Every hardcore druggy I’ve known boosts (slang for shoplifting). What’s the correct legal term for this? petty larceny, I don’t know.

    First offense: three days breaking rocks in the hot sun. Second offence: 6 days. Third offense: 12 days.
    This serves as an IQ test also.

    But what about the Pusherman? Well … that is the worst R&R song ever written (by Steppenwolf). It so awful I won’t link to it:


    1. Pusherman was written by Curtis Mayfield.

      The Pusher was written by Hoyt Axton (who did a lot of lame drug songs).

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