Man Jailed Three Months for Vitamin Powder

Unless you can afford a lawyer and bail money, don’t let cops find your vitamin powder.

Fifty-eight days in jail for nothing.

The headlines say three months but that seems to be a count of the months on the calendar. Still, 58 days is enough!


For the cops, it was a slam dunk. The guy had a record. He was caught driving without his headlights on, which allowed them to find an excuse to search his car. A “field test” told the officers that the powder they found was an amphetamine. They were sure they had caught someone for possession of meth.


The Mankato, Minnesota, man told the police officers and told the judge that the test was wrong. The powder was a vitamin powder for his shoulder.

This is an important point. He had to tell the judge that he refused to plead guilty. He had to spend almost three months in jail refusing to tell the authorities what they wanted to hear.

And the “law enforcement” bureaucracy took its sweet time getting the powder tested by a more reliable method.

Their victim, Joey Burrell, was not wealthy. He couldn’t afford to post bail. So he had to simply wait in jail while day after day that evidence was left untested.

“I was furious, I was hot, I was p#@@ed off. At the same time it was like, unbelievable,” Burrell told Fox 9.

[See also, “Invoke Your Rights: Spend 19 Days in Jail without Trial.”]

But it was all too believable.

Burrell is not an ideal citizen. We don’t know what are the “unrelated charges” he is facing. But justice isn’t measured by how the police and prosecutors treat a man who has a spotless record and can afford to make bail or retain his own attorney. Justice is measured by how you treat someone who has no money and whom you might find contemptible at some level. No matter how strongly you might think Burrell should be making smarter decisions, the fact is that he did not possess any drugs and he should not have been arrested. And while the false positive does make the initial arrest understandable, three months in jail before the real test does not make any sense.

The judge and prosecutor and all the other bureaucrats who had no problem warehousing Burrell need to be held accountable.