JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (AP) - A southern Indiana woman sentenced to two days in jail ended up spending five months locked up because a court failed to issue an order needed to free her, authorities said.
Special Judge Steve Fleece, who ordered 34-year-old Destiny Hoffman’s release on Thursday from the Clark County Jail, called her incarceration “a big screw up.”
And Hoffman’s attorney, Nathan Masingo, said he may file a lawsuit against county officials alleging his client was unlawfully incarcerated.
The Jeffersonville woman is a participant in the county’s drug court treatment program, which is overseen by Clark County Circuit Court Judge Jerry Jacobi. On Aug. 22, Jacobi sentenced Hoffman to 48 hours in jail after she violated the drug-treatment program by providing a diluted drug screen result.
Hoffman was to be held “pending evaluation and treatment recommendation,” but that evaluation or recommendation never took place. She then spent 154 days in the jail in Jeffersonville, The News and Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/1dBniiH ).
Court records also show that Jacobi ordered Hoffman’s incarceration without a hearing or legal counsel.
Clark County Deputy Prosecutor Michaelia Gilbert began investigating Hoffman’s incarceration on Wednesday while reviewing old case files. She entered a motion seeking an immediate status hearing, writing that Hoffman’s civil liberties were violated by the term of her incarceration.
Gilbert also wrote that Hoffman “has remained in the custody of the Clark County jail without a due process hearing.”
Before Hoffman was released the next day by Fleece, he asked her why she had not notified officials of her ongoing incarceration. But Hoffman did not reply to Fleece’s question.
Masingo, her attorney, said he has no explanation for why his client ended up in jail for so long.
“It is something the court should have known about. Obviously, it fell off their docket, and they just forgot about it,” he said. “For the last several months, she has been sitting in jail without counsel and without knowing what is going on.”
A pretrial hearing concerning Hoffman’s incarceration is scheduled for Monday in the Clark County Prosecutor’s office.
Masingo said he expects that his client “will be released from the drug court and all charges will be dropped.”
Information from: News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind., https://www.newsandtribune.com
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