Pubdate: Wed, 02 Oct 2002
Source: Daily Mountain Eagle (Jasper, AL)
Copyright: 2002 Daily Mountain Eagle
Author: Jerome Wassmann
Note: Jerome Wassmann is assistant to the publisher of the Daily Mountain 


I never cease to be amazed at decisions made by authorities when it comes 
to wrong doing versus someone's privacy. Especially if that person is in a 
facility that is trying to correct a wrong or problem to begin with. The 
situation I am referring to of course is the story of Noelle Bush, daughter 
of Governor Jeb Bush of Florida. From previous stories I have read, the 
young lady apparently has a problem with drugs. She is currently in a rehab 
center receiving treatment in an effort to solve the problem. However, 
while there, another problem has arisen.

She was found to have cocaine in her shoe on September 9.

Now the question arises, as it should, where did the drugs come from, from 
whom, and how did they get into the facility. A good question and one that 
law enforcement officers would like to know the answer to. But those 
investigating the case have run into a small stumbling block. The judge 
hearing the case has ruled staff members at the drug treatment center do 
not have to answer police questions about the piece of crack allegedly 
found in her shoe.

According to what the judge determined, if the counselors were forced to 
give testimony then "all patients who suffer relapses could be hauled out 
of treatment programs and into criminal courts on the whim of a state 
prosecutor or police officers." I'm not sure I am in agreement with that 
statement. I would hope that the prosecutors and police officers would be 
professional enough to not do something on a "whim."

I see two problems in this situation.

First there needs to be something done to see no drugs are brought into the 
rehab center. Therefore the authorities need to know how the drugs got into 
the center and who brought them in. Second, if drugs can be brought into 
the facility, why have the center for treatment to begin with. I was under 
the impression these centers are to help folks, not give them another venue 
for acquiring drugs. If the effort to keep the facility drug free is 
blocked by authorities then its existence would seem to be a waste of 
taxpayers money.

According to the information released, a staff member wrote a statement for 
officers but tore it up after a supervisor intervened. And that action 
seems to me to be sending the wrong message. But for whatever reason, the 
employee was not allowed to give the information to the officer and 
therefore thwarted the investigation.

I realize this is not a normal case since the individual is the daughter of 
the governor and is no doubt seen as being somewhat "high profile." I also 
sympathize with those involved. But there is a big problem existing at the 
treatment facility if they can not curtail completely the flow of illegal 
drugs coming into it.

Yes, there must be some privacy when treating a patient. And that privacy 
must be maintained with the strictest confidence. However, if law 
enforcement officers are blocked from doing the job they are supposed to do 
because of that privacy, we may need to look at when it may be appropriate 
to bend some of the rules of privacy.

It seems to me there may be several folks who lose in this particular 

First the young lady is on the losing end of things since she is still able 
to get drugs. Second, staff members who are there to help the patient are 
not able to assist in the stopping of illegal drugs coming into the 
facility because of privacy concerns. And finally, law enforcement can not 
do their job because they can not get information from staff members who 
may have knowledge of the illegal drugs.

I believe the judge needs to reconsider his decision or set some guidelines 
for allowing staff members to help law enforcement with their investigation.

Illegal drugs in the Center for Drug-Free Living appears to be somewhat of 
an oxymoron to me.

Jerome Wassmann is assistant to the publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle.
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