When you break the law, you get punished. Usually how it works is: you go to jail, go to court, then you serve out whatever time and pay whatever fines are appropriate under the law.
Nowhere in the normal judicial process does it say that a defendant should be stripped of their dignity…
Seen It All Before
Like most judges, Judge Amber Wolf hears a lot of cases. After a number of years, most judges can say that they’ve seen it all.
A Typical Case
On a summer day in 2016, the Louisville judge was scheduled to hear a case about a woman who had failed to complete a “diversion program” after she was convicted of a 2014 shoplifting charge. A diversion program is when a criminal offender does rehab, education, or community service instead of going to prison…
If the unnamed woman had completed the diversion program, her shoplifting conviction would have been wiped away from her record. Instead, for whatever reason, she messed up and missed her initial court date for the diversion program and was now facing a recommended sentence of 75 days for her offense.
The usual sentence for a first time shoplifter who’s stolen something of low value is most often a fine of some kind. It was fairly unusual that the prosecutor recommended such a strong sentence…
Leaning Toward Leniency
Because of that, Judge Wolf was already a bit confused as to why this woman was receiving such harsh treatment. She was considering giving the woman a sentence much more lenient than the one the prosecutor suggested.
What’s Going On?
Her confusion grew to shock when the woman arrived in her courtroom. Judging solely by her appearance, it was clear that she was not being treated the dignity and respect any person deserves, even if they are in jail…
When the woman arrived for her court appearance, she was dressed in the clothing she wore when she was arrested. That wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that she’d been arrested, presumably at her home, in the sweltering Kentucky heat.
Who Wears Short-Shorts?
Like many people relaxing in their homes on a boiling hot day, the woman had just been wearing a t-shirt and extremely short shorts – so short in fact, that it appeared she wasn’t wearing pants at all in the courtroom…
The woman’s lawyer informed Judge Wolf that her client had been requesting pants for the past three days and was denied them. What’s more, she had also been requesting feminine hygiene products for the entire time she was in jail and had not been provided any. The woman was clearly humiliated by the situation.
Judge Wolf was not at all pleased with the treatment the woman had received.“This is outrageous,” she said, clearly angry. “Is this for real? Am I in the Twilight Zone?” Someone was going to have to be held accountable for this…
I Need Answers
Judge Wolf immediately called up the jail where the woman was held to demand an explanation. “Why is there a female defendant standing in front of me with no clothes on?” Restraining her anger, she told the person on the other line that the woman had been requesting pants and feminine hygiene products for three days and she’d been given neither.
Empathy And Rage
It was clear that Judge Wolf was filled with not just indignation toward the woman’s jailers but also empathy for the woman herself. “I’m not trying to embarrass you, I’m very sorry,” Wolf told the defendant, then asked the bailiff: “can we get her something to cover up with? Anything, anything, anything. I don’t care what it is.”
Normal, But Shouldn’t Be
Judge Wolf was initially told by the jail that there must have been some kind of mistake and she assured the woman that “this is not normal.” Contrary to what Judge Wolf believed, the woman informed her that there were a number of recently arrested women who were dressed like her and hadn’t been given uniforms or other clothing to wear.
The woman said that when she’d arrived at central booking, the correctional officers were giving some women uniforms and weren’t giving them to others. “I don’t know if they were picking and choosing” or “what their criteria was,” she said…
For their part, Metro Corrections did not apologize for the woman’s appearance. They said in a statement that “she did not have jumpsuit pants on, she had the clothes she was wearing when she was arrested,” adding that it “happens every day … tank tops, t-shirts, running short, short dresses, sandals and flip flops. … It’s a hot Kentucky summer.”
He Said She Said
As far as not supplying the woman with feminine hygiene products, Metro Corrections denied that she’d even asked for them. They claimed that feminine sanitary napkins were “in large supply in the fresh arrest dorm” and if she had asked for them, they said, she would have gotten them…
You Broke The Law
Judge Wolf was also quite upset with the sentence that was recommended. “This is her only charge ever,” Wolf said. “She should have been in jail for maybe a day, tops.” She wanted to make it clear that while she was still not off the hook for her behavior, that didn’t excuse the jail.
But That’s No Excuse
“The fact you’re in custody is your fault – you gotta come to court,” Wolf said. “The rest of this is completely inhumane and unacceptable, and I’m incredibly sorry you had to go through this.”
Free To Go
Judge Wolf thought that the three days the woman had spent in jail would be a reasonable punishment for the shoplifting charge, provided she also pay a $100 fine on top of it. She released the woman with time served.
“I just want to tell you how incredibly sorry I am that you’ve been treated this way,” Judge Wolf said to the defendant after she was clothed and brought back into the courtroom. “No one deserves this, but particularly in a situation like this where you failed to complete a diversion program and didn’t even pick up new charges.”
Kentucky Judge Outraged By Jail’s Humiliating Treatment Of Inmate is an article from: LifeDaily