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Jeb Bush's Daughter Jailed on Drug Count


MIAMI — Gov. Jeb Bush's 24-year-old daughter was put in jail Wednesday after officials said she failed to meet the requirements of a court-ordered drug treatment program.

Noelle Bush, the niece of President Bush, was arrested in January after police said she attempted to buy Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, with a phony prescription.

She entered a drug treatment center, with the understanding that if she completed the program, charges against her would be dropped.

A letter from the treatment center to state Judge Reginald Whitehead said Bush had prescription pills in her possession that had apparently been taken from a nurse's office. Bush said she had found the pills, the letter said.

"There is a concern about her lack of honesty, and how it relates to her" recovery, the center's letter said.

After receiving the letter, Whitehead sentenced Bush to a three-day jail term for contempt of court. She was taken into custody in Orlando, Fla., and was scheduled to be released Friday, with another hearing on her case to be held the same day.

"My family is saddened to share that our daughter Noelle has not abided by the conditions of her drug court treatment plan," the governor said in an e-mail to reporters. "Unfortunately, this happens to many individuals even as they continue their journey to full recovery."

"There are consequences for every action we take in our lives, and as her parents, Columba and I wish we could have prevented our daughter from making the wrong choices," Bush said. "We love Noelle, but she is an adult, and I respect the role of the courts in carrying out our state's drug treatment policies."

Bush visited his daughter at the jail Wednesday night after a speech in Orlando.

"We're saddened and disappointed that my daughter's not complying with the court order," Bush told the speech audience. "People that have addictions don't recover in a perfect way. My daughter's not perfect."

Bush is running for reelection, and the latest polls indicate the Republican incumbent should win handily, even if the strongest Democratic candidate, former Atty. Gen. Janet Reno, receives her party's nomination.

The continuing problems of Bush's daughter should have no political downside for him, an observer said.

"The way the governor has handled this reminds us that this could have happened to any family," said James Witt, a professor of government at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. Officials of the Orange County Corrections Department said that because of her prominence, Bush would be given special protection behind bars. She either will be confined in a cell by herself, or share a cell with another person in protective custody.

Noelle is the Bushes' only daughter. They have two sons, George and Jeb Jr.

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