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Judge allows woman to continue treatment for addiction

La Plata, MD - Jessica Renee McQueen, 34 of Millersville, MD, is another in a flurry of recent defendants in Charles County Circuit Court trying to overcome heroin addiction.

McQueen accepted a plea offer from the state in November 2011 and was sentenced to and given credit for 243 days along with five years of supervised probation for theft under $1,000.

Appearing before Charles County Circuit Court Judge Helen I. Harrington for sentencing Tuesday, Aug. 18, McQueen told the judge that for the first time in many years she is looking forward to living.

“I know you probably hear a lot of things,” she told Harrington. “It’s hard being an addict. People who don’t deal with addiction have no idea how hard it is. For the first time in my life, I feel hopeful about my future. Before, I never wanted to live. I never wanted to be alive. I have started to thank God for allowing me to wake up.”

While McQueen has undergone therapy for her addiction, the catch, as far as Harrington was concerned, was that she had no proof.

Charles County Assistant Public Defender Michele Harewood called Penn North in Baltimore to inquire if they had a bed for McQueen.

“I talked with an agent at Penn North,” she told the court. “He has been in communication with Ms. McQueen. He told me, ‘yes, we have spoken to her,’ and ‘yes, we can get her in immediately, but the court must issue an order.’

“Penn North does random drug testing,” Harewood added. “That’s about as much as I was able to find out. Her mother is here. She knows about her being in recovery.”

“What concerns me more than anything is the gap between when she was at the Tuerk House [in Baltimore] and now,” the judge said.

“It was only a four-week gap," McQueen responded.

"I’ve been a screw up my whole life,” McQueen admitted. “But I did everything I was asked to do. When the police arrested me, I begged them to let me go in my house and get my paperwork, but they wouldn’t. When you said, ‘prove it,’ my heart sank. You have no reason to believe me.”

“I don’t disbelieve you, either,” Harrington replied.

Harrington rescheduled the case for the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 19 and told the defendant she would go ahead and sign the order to have McQueen transferred to Penn North, but was also looking for more information in the meantime.

According to Harewood, the judge did sign the order and on Wednesday, her client was sent to Baltimore.

Harrington reset a probation hearing for Oct. 30.

“Hopefully, between now and then you’ll be in a program and can produce documentation,” the judge said. “You will have to be in touch with the office of parole and probation.

“The important thing is that you are connected with something stable to have that level of support, which will allow you to get secure in your recovery,” Harrington added. “I’ve seen people stumble and fall a week after getting out of treatment. Having people around you who will support you will help.”

Contact Joseph Norris at joe.norris@thebaynet.com

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