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Failure to return from funeral costs inmate

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

 

An inmate who failed to report back to jail after being temporarily released for her father’s funeral will be serving over five years in prison for violating terms of her probation.

According to evidence presented during a probation revocation hearing held Monday, Jessica Nicole Finley was “on the run” for two months, 10 days after being released to attend the funeral.

“To use your father’s funeral as a way to escape really, really bothers me,” Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Marcus Long Jr. told Finley. “You just dug your hole deeper. You have no respect for the court or your family either if you use your father’s funeral” to abscond.

Finley had five years, nine months of suspended sentence remaining on convictions of larceny and receiving stolen property when her probation officer, Patricia Ball, filed to have Finley’s probation revoked for drug use.

Ball said Finley’s adjustment to probation has been “poor.” She pointed out Finley tested positive for drug use four times while on probation. All four tests were positive for cocaine and she also tested positive for opiates and Benzodiazepine on separate occasions.

“She was asking for treatment and help, so I was willing to work with her,” said Ball. She offered to try to get Finley into the New Life program, which includes a term of inpatient care, but Finley wasn’t interested in it.

Ball said she directed Finley to two other programs that offer outpatient care. She couldn’t recall whether Finley ever attended one of the programs, but she said Finley attended the other one “off and on” and tested positive for drug use while in the program.

Finley eventually was incarcerated for failing to pay child support, according to Ball. Upon release, she said she tried to get Finley back in the drug treatment programs, but Finley failed to show up for either intake appointment.

Ball said she tried to make an impact on Finley by having her sit in court and listen to probation revocation hearings, but Finley failed to show up.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Fleenor said it is obvious Finley has a “serious drug problem.” He pointed out Finley rejected Ball’s “considerable efforts” to help her. “She wants to have it both ways. She wants help, but refuses it when it’s offered,” he told the judge.

Fleenor asked the court to consider requiring Finley to complete the New Life program as a condition of release after she serves time for violating probation and absconding.

“The Commonwealth didn’t object to her temporary release for the funeral, but we certainly expected her to return,” said Fleenor. “I ask you to revoke a significant portion of her (suspended) sentence.”

Judge Long revoked the full sentence and ordered Finley to complete a therapeutic program while incarcerated.

 

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