Lawsuit alleges false imprisonment after arrest for endangering fetus that didn't exist. Another Alabama woman has been jailed for using drugs while pregnant. But this time there's a twist: she wasn't actually pregnant. Her young child merely told a social worker that she was, according to the woman's lawsuit against local law enforcement in Etowah County.
There's an easy way to tell if someone is pregnant, of course, but authorities reportedly failed to administer a pregnancy test before booking Stacey Freeman into jail for about one and a half days. "Freeman offered to take a pregnancy test and Etowah County Department of Human Resources employees entered an order for one," according to AL.com. "However, she never took the test and Etowah County Sheriff Investigator Brandi Fuller issued a warrant for her arrest, according to the lawsuit."
Freeman was arrested for alleged "chemical endangerment of a child." Alabama's chemical endangerment of a child statute is frequently used against women who use any drugs, including marijuana, while pregnant. Convictions can mean up to 20 years in prison.
Etowah County is especially bad, according to the group Pregnancy Justice (formerly known as National Advocates for Pregnant Women). The county "has prosecuted more than 150 women on pregnancy-related charges in recent years," Pregnancy Justice said. "Of the more than 1,700 pregnancy-related criminalization cases Pregnancy Justice has documented from 1973 through 2020, Alabama leads the nation with more than 600 cases, and Etowah County leads the state."
Freeman is now suing Fuller and Etowah County Sheriff Jonathon Horton.
Fuller personally has made "an obscene number of arrests for pregnant and postpartum women," states Freeman's lawsuit. It alleges that "the Sheriff's department and its employees have been reckless in investigating in making arrests of women for chemical endangerment and then encouraging their prosecution."
Our fight against the criminalization of pregnancy in Etowah Co., AL, continues. In the 150+ cases we found, investigator Brandi Fuller is on nearly all of the warrants. She operates unchecked to "protect the unborn" — and now when there isn't even a fetus! This is next level. https://t.co/ouhExQWWkK
— National Advocates for Pregnant Women (@NAPW) November 21, 2022
Freeman claims she was menstruating when she was arrested and jailed—something that should have either been a telltale sign that she was not pregnant or warranted medical attention if she was. Freeman further alleges that jail staff would not give her feminine hygiene products.
Freeman's charges were eventually dropped, but not expunged. That means the case is still part of public record, stating that Freeman tested positive for alcohol, amphetamines, and marijuana while pregnant.
"It's good that the charges were dropped," Freeman's lawyer, Martin Weinberg, told AL.com. "But there's harm in someone even being arrested and spending two days in jail. Wrongful arrest and malicious arrest is problematic on its own."
Until recently, pregnant women jailed in Etowah County for chemical endangerment wouldn't be released unless they put up a $10,000 bond and agreed to enter in-patient rehab. The county changed this practice in September, following action from Pregnancy Justice and reporting from AL.com about Ashley Banks.
Banks was held in jail for three months after admitting to smoking pot on the day she found out she was pregnant. She and others "remained indefinitely jailed before trial because no treatment beds were available," noted Pregnancy Justice in September. "In Ms. Banks' case, she was found ineligible for inpatient drug treatment because she did not have a substance use disorder but still remained jailed for three months during her high-risk pregnancy."
Under the county's new policy, women must pay a $2,500 bond in order to be released, as well as fees for pretrial monitoring. They also have to submit to drug testing every 48 to 72 hours, according to Pregnancy Justice.
Jack Daniels can't take a joke. Talk about a self own: Liquor brand Jack Daniels is apparently worried that people will mistake a plastic bottle covered in dog poop jokes for its whiskey. The company has sued the maker of "Bad Spaniel," a dog toy designed to parody Jack Daniels. From CBS News:
The toy that got Jack Daniel's so doggone mad mimics the square shape of its whisky bottle as well as its black-and-white label and amber-colored liquor while adding what it calls "poop humor." While the original bottle has the words "Old No. 7 brand" and "Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey," the parody proclaims: "The Old No. 2 on Your Tennessee Carpet."
Instead of the original's note that it is 40% alcohol by volume, the parody says it's "43% Poo by Vol." and "100% Smelly."
The toy retails for about $13 to $20 and the packaging notes in small font: "This product is not affiliated with Jack Daniel Distillery."
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.
Oregon has pardoned around 45,000 people with convictions for marijuana possession. Gov. Kate Brown announced yesterday that she is pardoning 47,144 convictions for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, a move which will impact an estimated 45,000 people. The state will also forgive about $14 million in fines.
There's a hearing today in the case of a high school principal charged with sexual exploitation of a child after he investigated a case of students' sexting
The 32-yo faces up to 12 years in prison
No one has accused him of trying to distribute the images or having bad intent
— Shannon (@ShannonNajma) November 21, 2022
• The percentage of Americans supporting stricter gun laws has decreased since the summer. In a new Gallup poll, 57 percent of respondents said they favor stricter gun laws, down from 66 percent in June but up from 52 percent around this time last year.
• "Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey sought a pause in executions and ordered a 'top-to-bottom' review of the state's capital punishment system Monday after an unprecedented third failed lethal injection," the Associated Press reported.
• The U.S. needs more housing than anyone can imagine, suggested Annie Lowrey at The Atlantic.
• New York has started issuing licenses for recreational marijuana dispensaries.
• Mother Jones makes the case that it's time to "free the pill."
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