There was a stunning revelation during a Clatsop County probation violation hearing Tuesday.

Joanne Marissa Rice, a 20-year-old Astoria woman who was once recognized as a student who had recovered from methamphetamine addiction, said she'd had three opportunities to use intravenous drugs while a resident at the Clatsop County Transition Center.

Rice fell off the wagon shortly after speaking at a much-publicized 2007 North Coast methamphetamine summit. Her saga evolved as she became involved in a crime spree that ended with the conviction of her former boyfriend for first-degree robbery. He was sentenced to 71/2 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

For Rice's role in the couple's crime spree, and her eventual flight from the law, Clatsop County Circuit Court Judge Paula Brownhill in November sentenced her to one year in jail. The judge said she'd have sentenced Rice to prison if she could.

Rice was lodged in the Clatsop County Jail, then, on Jan. 10, transferred to the Transition Center.

Within a couple of weeks, she had been busted for a probation violation.

Rice and another female resident of the center were returned to the Clatsop County Jail after they failed urinary analysis tests and were found with a syringe.

The facility was intended for low-level offenders who might be sentenced to several weeks or months in the county jail, but are released after a few days because of overcrowding.

In her probation violation hearing in Clatsop County Courtroom 300 Tuesday, Rice testified that she'd had three opportunities to take intravenous drugs in the center.

Brownhill asked her if she had used the drugs in the Transition Center, and whether methamphetamine had been brought into the minimum-security facility.

Her reply to both questions was yes.

Rice said three times she'd been offered drugs that had been brought in. She said in court she turned them down twice.

Rice confirmed that she had taken OxyContin intravenously while in the center.

Clatsop County Community Corrections Director Cora Lane said the center contacted the Warrenton Police Department, whose officers prepared a report about the incident. But not enough evidence was found to prove who had brought the drugs into the center.

"It happens," Lane said. "Usually, they do not bring (drugs) in here. Usually they do not. That was unusual."

The residents of the center go out to search for jobs, attend schools or to medical and mental health appointments.

"They have a schedule. They're not strip-searched here. They're not inmates," Lane said.

She said residents check out when they leave and check back in when they return. They are required to stay on a schedule, and if they deviate, they are penalized. They face the prospect of being sent back to the jail, she said.

"Sometimes we'll sanction them here," Lane said. "We consider the nature of the violation and the fullness of the jail."

In November, an inmate at the Clatsop County Jail was busted for having contraband in the jail. In that case, it was heroin, complete with needles.

The inmate had turned himself in to the jail on a probation violation. He "keistered in" his drugs and syringe by hiding them in a body cavity.

Jail personnel realized that the man had been in the jail for more than a day and wasn't "coming down."

Personnel offered the entire block the opportunity to go out on the roof of the jail (where there is an outside, fenced-in yard) and 10 of the 11 inmates took them up on the offer. The other remained behind - probably to keep watch over his stash. The inmate faces new charges ­- for possession of heroin and taking contraband into the jail.

"We have the contraband," said Lt. Paul Tesi, the jail commander.


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