Judge increases bail for mother whose newborn tested positive for drugs

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A judge has upped the bail from $10,000 to $100,000 for the mother whose newborn baby tested positive for drugs.

Jamillah Falls’ is the second case under a new Tennessee law criminalizing drug use while pregnant, and the judge wants to make sure she doesn’t run.

Falls has been in drug court every day this week since she turned herself in Monday night. She waited a few days to try and collect bail money, but Thursday the judge upped the ante, and Falls was not happy.

Her lawyer, William Gosnell, tells WREG he thinks it was the right thing.

“She’s two days off drugs so she’s a little shaky but I think she held up quite well,” he said.

Her case is the first of its kind here in Shelby County, and Gosnell says that’s exactly why he took it. He wants to help set a precedent.

“She has tried to quit before. But she couldn’t make it. Now she’s got the assistance of this program to help her,” he said.

But he’s worried the state may use this program against Falls as a way to take her baby away from her for good if she relapses again.

District Attorney Amy Weirich says while there are rules in place for this new law, the judge and lawyers involved formulate a specialized plan around the addict and the circumstances. Some get jail time, others get treatment.

“They are all making those decisions and deciding what is best with this particular case but they’re not all handled the same way,” Weirich said.

Falls’ lawyer is hopeful she will qualify for the treatment program after she told Judge Dwyer she wants help.

“She didn’t get arrested by the police, she walked in here on her own power and turns herself in. That shows me something right there,” said Gosnell.

Weirich says she’s glad to hear Falls wants to get help. She says that’s what this program is all about.

“So we can stop the cycle of babies being born dependent on these illegal drugs,” she said.

Another twist in this case is Falls is already on probation for forging prescriptions. Before Judge Dwyer can send her to treatment, they would need approval from Judge Carter, who is handling the criminal case.

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