Mother Blames Drug Court For Daughter's Fatal Heroin Overdose

Mother Blames Drug Court For Daughter's Fatal Heroin Overdose

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Tasha Riley Tasha Riley
MARION, Ohio - "That's a mothers worst nightmare, that phone call."

Janie Wagers' daughter, Tasha Riley, overdosed on heroin at Marion General Hospital on April 2.

A 25-year-old woman, nicknamed "Smiley Riley," Tasha was a mother to three children, ages 8, 6 and 4.

"We told the kids she was sick, and she was. It's a disease," said Wagers.

Five years ago, Tasha moved from Shiloh, north of Mansfield, to Marion.

Wagers said her daughter would still be alive if it weren't for a Marion County judge's decision to take her out of prison and put her in drug court.

"She tested dirty twice. They did nothing about it. Well, let's see, one strike, two strike, three, she's dead. She doesn't have another chance. She's gone," Wagers said.

Wagers said she wonders how someone in a drug court program for less than two weeks and tests positive for drugs isn't kicked out of the program.

Wagers said that Tasha didn't want to be released early from prison. Tasha's younger sister, Jackie, recieved a letter that she said Tasha wrote behind bars. It said in part, "My judge is wanting to judicial me out in 30 days. He is wanting me to do drug court and I guess that's an 18 month program. I'm better off doing my time and get out without papers."

Marion County Judge Jim Slagle denies that Tasha tested dirty, saying he started drug court last summer to help addicts.

"We have 33 participants in the drug court. It's high-risk felony offenders, basically the people least likely to succeed," he said.

Wagers said it was high-risk to let her daughter out of prison where she gave into temptation.

"She wanted to stay in prison and do her time because she knew that she wasn't ready to get out," Wagers said.

Wagers said her daughter needed help in the form of remaining in behind bars until her June 19 release date.

Slagle added that no one is forced to stay in drug court. He also said Tasha was the first death in his program, in which he still believes in and has seen success in.

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