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Monday, June 21, 2004

Everybody go to jail!

Feds haul passenger off cruise ship in cuffs for marshmallow incident

June 20, 2004


MIAMI -- A teacher's aide who forgot to put away her marshmallows and hot chocolate at Yellowstone National Park last year was taken from her cruise ship cabin in handcuffs and hauled before a judge Friday, wrongfully accused of failing to pay the fine.

Hope Clarke, 32, crying and in leg shackles, told the judge she was rousted at 6:30 a.m. by federal agents after the ship returned to Miami from Mexico. She insisted that she had been required to pay the $50 fine before she could leave Yellowstone, which has strict rules about food storage to prevent wildlife from eating human food.

Customs agents meet all cruise ships arriving from foreign ports and run random checks of passenger lists, and a warrant claiming Clarke had not paid the fine was found in the federal database.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Outerbridge conceded there were some ''discrepancies,'' but suggested to the judge that Clarke appear in court again to clear up the warrant.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John O'Sullivan, who had a copy of a citation indicating the fine was paid, apologized to Clarke, who spent nearly nine hours in detention, and demanded that the U.S. attorney's office find out what went wrong.

Zach Mann, spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, called the arrest ''an unfortunate set of circumstances.'' He added, ''We were acting on what we believed was accurate information.''

Here is the problem, the law enforcement community believes it is never wrong, when they "believe" that they are acting on accurate information, people's lives are brought to ruin. Ok, and in regard to this unfortunate incident, When did America turn into a police state?
If this woman did have an outstanding fine for $50.00 did it not take more effort in terms of $$ on the part of law enforcement to capture and detain her for nine hours? What happen to the age old practice of sending a notice through the mail?

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