Man released from custody after cookie dispute disrupts residential treatment program

A San Francisco judge on Monday agreed to release a man who was remanded into custody after he was kicked out of a residential treatment program after he allegedly violated the program’s rules by eating a cookie, the Public Defender’s Office announced.

During a Monday morning hearing, Judge Michael Begert agreed to modify Gregory Fields’ six-month jail sentence and release him, his attorney Deputy Public Defender Dana Drusinsky said.

Begert had remanded Fields into custody last week after he had been asked to leave a court-ordered residential treatment program at The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center.

Fields, 42, was initially placed at the center while on probation in connection with a 2017 vandalism charge. He was then asked to leave for violating the center’s rules by eating a cookie without permission as lunches were being handed out to homeless people, according to Drusinsky.

Although Fields was given the option to either start the residential treatment program over, including a 30-day detox followed by another 30-day “blackout” period in which he wouldn’t be able to contact his family, Fields chose to leave the program altogether.

Although he sought outpatient treatment on his own, maintained sobriety and attended drug court group meetings, Fields was ultimately turned away from the treatment program he found, the public defender’s office said.

Then last week, with no options left, Fields chose the only alternative, which was to serve six months in county jail.

In a statement, the Salvation Army’s spokeswoman Jennifer Byrd said while the organization can’t comment on specific details about its clients, she said it would never discharge a patient without finding alternative placements.

“As part of our standard of care we always try to find an alternative position to discharging a client,” she said.

Furthermore, she added, “Each client admitted to a Salvation Army facility agrees to behavioral expectations. Our goal for each person we work with is to help with substance use disorder and prevent recidivism and teach them life skills that will help them when they reenter society after leaving our program.”

Daniel Montes, Bay City News

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