A beautiful little Milton boy is about to have his first birthday, on Wednesday, August 15.
But his mom won’t be there.
You see, she made some mistakes and used poor judgment and as a result, she is in the Santa Rosa County jail.
The system has a hold on her and being the system and all, it won’t let go.
Bradley’s mom suffered, off and on, with post-partum depression since his birth. Despite money being tight, and having some medical problems, despite being home alone with two small children and having very little support, she managed.
And then she didn’t manage.
And one day she turned to wine for relief, her own self-medication.
And then did a stupid thing.
She drove her car to the daycare to pick up her 4-year-old son.
When she arrived, the daycare operator noticed the slurred speech and smelled the alcohol and would not allow the young boy to go with his mother.
As a matter of fact, the young boy never even knew what happened. He was in the back of the pre-school watching cartoons with his friends.
He didn’t see the first Sheriff’s car arrive. Or the second one. He didn’t see his mom in handcuffs. He didn’t know they drove her to jail.
At first deputies said she was under protective custody. They couldn’t arrest her for DUI because they didn’t catch her behind the wheel. She had Bradley in the car with her. The daycare is about a quarter mile from her house. So for that distance, she risked her life and the life of that precious little baby. When they put her in protective custody, they asked her if she wanted her purse to go to jail with her. The deputy carried it from her car, took it to her in the back of his patrol car, and that’s where she said ‘yes’.
Once she said yes, the deputy said that gave him the right to search it. When he searched it, he found a prescription pill spilled in the bottom of the purse. The medication belonged to the young mother, but it was not in the bottle. Not being able to arrest her for DUI, they got her for possession of a controlled substance and she was formally charged with a felony.
During the course of all that followed, DCF got involved. And her household was placed under certain court-ordered sanctions. She was let out of jail on pre-trial release. One of the conditions of pre-trial release is to check in once a week at a designated office.
The young mother minded her sanctions. No drinking, etc. And she took care of her two boys like a trooper. She still suffered depression, but DCF had workers from at least two agencies visiting her home regularly. She had regular alcohol tests to ensure she was following court sanctions. All was well.
She had court the day the man died in the parking lot. Remember that? The power went out at the courthouse and it was hot. Some court was cancelled, some rescheduled. The very next day she was supposed to check in at her pretrial release appointment. With all the DCF appointments, drug and alcohol tests, and court, she missed the appointment. She was so stressed, she didn’t even know she missed it until the next Tuesday when she showed up to check in and they had a warrant for her arrest.
She was placed in handcuffs again and taken to the Santa Rosa County jail where she still sits today.
That was nearly two weeks ago. When Bradley’s birthday comes on Wednesday, it will be two weeks and one day.
Officials say she won’t get out until October 11, when she goes to court on the prescription drug charge. The only way to get all this information heard is for her public defender to get her a bond hearing so they can consider release.
She says she has put in three requests to see him and still he has not come.
Every day people are arrested, taken to the jail, bond, and released. People charged with much more serious crimes. And still she sits there.
She is a 22 year old mother of two young boys. She missed an appointment. Now it’s costing taxpayers every day she is there. She is going to miss her son’s first birthday.
Does she deserve to be there? That is negotiable. What she did was wrong and could have cost her life and the life of the baby. She was arrested as a result of her actions, though not specifically for her actions, and she will pay the price when she faces a judge.
In the meantime, she is no flight risk. She was born here, her family is here, her two sons are here. She wants to find a job. The boys are in daycare now. She is still under sanctions not to drink, etc.
I know of this case personally. I know the facts in this story are true. I witnessed many of them firsthand. It makes me think she can’t be the only one caught in the system. I wonder how many more people are sitting in the overcrowded jail because someone won’t do the paperwork or take the time to look at a case and get it heard.
She is at the mercy of the those in charge.
And she does not need to be in there.
Other than miss her appointment, she did everything she was told to do.
Things look grim from her point of view right now.
But this is only a stepping stone. She will get out, if not in time for Bradley’s birthday, then hopefully in October…which seems so very far away.
Bradley will be one year old on Wednesday.
I know what he would wish for if he were old enough to know