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Addict is denied bail to spare unborn triplets

LAWRENCE -- A judge has ordered a known heroin addict pregnant with triplets to be held on bail to protect the mother's unborn children following her 27th arrest.

Christien Rivera, 24, has already lost custody of three children to the state. Officials hope her $5,000 cash bail will be too high to result in her release from the state prison for women, MCI-Framingham, the Eagle-Tribune reported yesterday.

Rivera's youngest child, born in 2002, tested positive for drugs hours after its birth, and officials do not want the same for the triplets. She is due in three months.

"If she wants to poison her own body that's one thing, but assuming what is in the police report is true, she's affecting three other people," said Lawrence District Court Judge Allen J. Jarasitis when he set Rivera's bail.

On Thursday, Rivera coaxed an undercover officer to drive her to her drug dealer, where she obtained crack cocaine. Rivera offered to share it with the officer for $10, officers said. During a police search, officers also found Rivera carrying a bag of heroin.

Rivera's lawyer, David E. Timmons, sought house arrest for her instead of bail, saying his client's high-risk pregnancy required weekly medical visits and that Rivera's "biggest concern is the care of her children."

Edward J. Foley, deputy superintendent at MCI-Framingham, said the prison sees an average of 145 pregnant women per year. He said of those pregnancies, roughly 10 babies will be born while the mother is incarcerated.

Rivera's three other children, born in 1998, 2000, and 2002, were all taken by the state. Two were taken on the day they were born. Rivera can never see the three children again, according to records. The Department of Social Services cannot step in until children are born, DSS spokeswoman Denise Monteiro said. Monteiro said Social Services workers have tried to help Rivera get drug counseling.

"She wanted the help and originally began to do the work, but was not able to complete it," Monteiro said.

Rivera's friend Edwin Alicea, who knows Rivera as Roxi, says she

is homeless. "She was telling me she wanted to go get methadone -- that way she can get an apartment," he said. "She's got a heroin problem. She hasn't had any luck."

In prison, a program called Catch the Hope will provide Rivera with a social worker and a nurse. Foley said services also include weekly prenatal classes that address childbirth, reproductive health, and substance abuse.

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