For many people who are required to go to drug treatment facilities as a part of their probation, getting kicked out of one of these places could result in more prison time. In most cases where a patient ends up getting kicked out of treatment, it is because they failed a drug test, but there are usually a variety of other rules a patient can break to get themselves removed.
Last month, a man in San Francisco was sentenced to six months in prison because he was kicked out of a rehab facility for eating a leftover cookie without permission.
According to his public defender, 42-year-old Gregory Fields has been clean for months and only failed his treatment because the facility kicked him out for eating a cookie without asking for permission while he was working on behalf of the facility, handing out lunch to the homeless. The facility responsible for this situation is known as The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center.
It is unclear why this was such a grave offense, but the facility told Fields that he was being terminated from the program. When he appealed the decision with his caseworker, the administrators of the center told him that his only option for re-enrollment was to entirely restart the program.
However, restarting the entire program would have required a 30-day detox and then 30 days of isolation from the outside world, a very intense process that he had already been through. This would also mean more billing hours for the rehab facility, which would mean a much more expensive stay for Fields.
Fields made attempts to enroll with other facilities before he was due back in court, but he could not get into one soon enough. When he appeared in court, the judge did not accept his explanation for not completing his rehab requirement, and sentenced him to six months in prison.
In a statement last week, San Francisco Deputy Public Defender Dana Drusinksy told NBC:
“The program’s response was grossly disproportionate to the unauthorized snacking offense, and the court’s response to the low-level rule violation is counterproductive and inhumane.”
The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office requested the prisoner’s release last week, citing the strange circumstances behind his arrest. Luckily, Judge Michael Begert ultimately decided to reverse the court’s decision, but only after Fields spent a month in prison over the ordeal.
Last week, Fields was released from prison but remains on probation.