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Drug offender to undergo treatment


A Carroll County woman convicted twice on cocaine-distribution charges will be allowed to enter a residential drug treatment center before a county judge decides how much -- if any -- of a 10-year sentence to impose.

Diane L. Wisner, 35, of Union Mills will enter the treatment program when she is released from the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women on Saturday, according to an order signed yesterday by Carroll Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold.

On Saturday, Wisner will have served all of a two-year sentence Judge Arnold imposed for a 1992 cocaine-distribution conviction.

Wisner made the request for inpatient drug treatment at a hearing in December. At the same hearing, prosectors asked the judge to impose a 10-year sentence without parole for her second cocaine-distribution conviction. A county jury had found her guilty after a two-day trial in July 1993.

Wisner's request was under a little-used provision of the multiple-offender statute that gives judges discretion in sentencing drug addicts. Judge Arnold could have imposed the 10-year sentence. In signing the order yesterday, he chose to order Wisner to undergo extensive drug treatment. In a year, he could decide whether she should serve any time behind bars.

At the time she made the request, she tearfully begged Judge Arnold to spare her a decade behind bars.

Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker III, the county's chief drug prosecutor, was vehement in his desire to see Wisner jailed.

"Do not, I beg you, do not release her to the community," the prosecutor told the judge in December. "It's time to take the blinders off . . . and face reality. We have to stand up and say, 'Enough is enough.' "

Mr. Walker declined to comment yesterday on the judge's decision.

The sentence Wisner finishes on Saturday stems from her 1992 conviction on cocaine-distribution charges. That conviction, which resulted from a search of her mother's car during a traffic stop, was her first.

In January 1993, Wisner was to receive probation before judgment, meaning that the conviction would have been wiped from her criminal record after successfully completing probation.

But the day before she was to appear before Judge Arnold for sentencing, she was arrested by Carroll County Narcotics Task Force officers and charged with distribution of cocaine.

That was the offense that led to her conviction last year.

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