Friday, January 05, 2007

Busted for Flour

Somehow I missed this story when it first came to light last year. I discovered it today via Metafilter

A Bryn Mawr student was charged with drug possession and thrown into jail for three weeks after three condoms containing flour were found in her luggage at the Philadelphia airport. The condoms had been filled with flour as a college joke, which she explained to the police, but ... well, they arrested her anyway. Seems that two “field tests” showed the condoms contained opium, cocaine, and amphetamines. A later test, however, proved it really was flour, thus saving her from 20 years hard time in prison.

In all likelihood, this test would never have been conducted had it not been for the intervention of her lawyer. I wonder how many people without decent legal representation are sitting in prison right now for possessing flour, or sugar, or salt, something or other that looks like drugs and can be "proven" to be drugs by "field tests."

At any rate, the woman filed a lawsuit and it was settled a few days ago for $180,000. The city of Philadelphia has not admitted culpability, and naturally the officers who apparently fixed the results of the “field tests” have not been fired.

Note to self: Avoid Philadelphia.