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Woman receives 20-year sentence for introducing baby to methamphetamine

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A jury consisting of five men and seven women deliberated for a total of 19 minutes in a Mena, Ark. courthouse before recommending that a drug-addicted mother be given the statutory maximum sentence of 20 years for introducing her newborn son to methamphetamine, The Polk County Pulse reported on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.

Authorities were first contacted back in 2012 when medical staff discovered a pipe in the hospital room of Melissa Arms after she delivered her son. Employees confirmed that Arms and her husband had been acting erratically both before and after the birth.

After obtaining a search warrant, blood and urine samples were taken from both Arms and her newborn son, Joseph. The tests revealed that both the mother and her baby had high levels of methamphetamine in their systems.

The baby had numerous health problems, including symptoms of drug withdrawals, and after further probing by authorities, as well as the results of the blood and urine tests, Arms admitted to using meth both during and after the pregnancy.

One nurse testified that, while watching her newborn go through withdrawals, Arms tearfully admitted, “I did this to my child.”

But the jury was not impressed by her remorse.

“This case was about bringing attention to Joseph Arms and other babies who are being born addicted to controlled substances, and it was an important one” said Prosecuting Attorney, Andy Riner. “It seems that nothing is being done by the legislature to address this problem, and having begun to poke around the edges of the problem we have realized that it is much more common than we suspected.”

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