Judge ends woman's weekend sentence

She will serve six months for violating conditions

Baltimore City/county

November 03, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A Carroll judge ended an "experiment" of lengthy weekend sentencing yesterday and sent a Baltimore woman to jail for six months, after she violated conditions of an 88-weekend sentence on a bad-check conviction.

According to jail officials, Karen M. Tucker, 38, of the 2500 block of Eutaw Place arrived at the jail under the influence of drugs on at least two occasions. She tested positive for opiates, District Court documents showed.

Warden George R. Hardinger also said correctional officers were tipped that Tucker had smuggled drugs into the jail and was expected to do so again.

Judge Marc G. Rasinsky told Tucker at the violation hearing yesterday that his original three-year sentence, which he suspended to 88 weekends, was given "in hope that you could stay clean."

"You weren't able to do that," Rasinsky said. "Drugs are stronger than you are."

Rasinsky reimposed the three-year sentence, suspended all but 204 days and gave credit for the 24 days she has served, leaving 180 days or six months as the maximum time to serve.

Curt Anderson, a Baltimore attorney representing Tucker, said he agreed with the sentence.

"The judge tried giving her 88 weekends," he said. "It was a bad experiment. It didn't work. Sometimes the best thing for a client is jail, a period to do what needs to be done."

A court order was granted Oct. 5 to perform a body cavity search on Tucker when she arrived at the jail. She was taken to Carroll County General Hospital on Oct. 8, but a search and X-rays found no drugs, Hardinger said.

Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning said staff members had received information that Tucker would be taking drugs into the jail. He said deputies had a police dog go into her car, and the dog alerted to the presence of drugs, providing probable cause for the car to be searched.

A bottle of pills was found in the car.

Because weekenders are on the outside all week, they must be separated from inmates held in the secure portion of the detention center, Hardinger said. However, they interact with other weekend prisoners and work-release inmates.

"We do not want to risk their bringing in contraband and passing it to other prisoners," he said.

Contraband can take many forms and create problems for jail staff, he said. Anything that can be used as a weapon -- a ballpoint pen, for instance -- is banned, he said.

"Drugs, even prescription drugs, can be a big problem if passed to someone who may have a violent reaction," he noted.

Since smoking is banned in the detention center, cigarettes are sold among inmates for as much as $5 each, and problems arise when inmates begin fighting over a cigarette, or over who owes whom money for them.

Weekend inmates must be carefully searched to prevent these kinds of problems, Hardinger said.

The potential for problems is much greater when weekend sentences are stretched as long as 88 weekends, Tregoning said.

"We have 10 or 11 inmates on weekend sentences, the shortest is four weekends, but one is for 88 weekends and another is for 44 weekends," he said.

Rasinsky declined to comment because Tucker has appeal rights.

Weekend sentences might be imposed to get a defendant's attention, said Raymond E. Beck Sr., administrative judge for the Circuit Court of Carroll County.

"It's a chance to let defendants get a taste of what jail is like, a wake-up call," Beck said. "I don't usually give them, unless maybe for one weekend, two at most."

Pub Date: 11/03/99

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