On November 14, 1961, Charles was arrested on a narcotics charge in an Indiana hotel room. The detectives seized heroin, marijuana, and other items. Charles, then 31 years old, stated that he had been a drug addict since the age of 16. The case was dismissed because the evidence was obtained in an illegal way. By 1964 he was arrested again for possession of marijuana and heroin. Following a self-imposed stay at St. Francis Hospital in Lynwood, California, where he kicked his drug habit "in 96 hours" (the total treatment took 3 to 4 months, though), Charles received five years probation.
Ina archives (ID CAF97016550) has a 20 second news clip titled Ray Charles Arrêté Pour Trafic De Drogue, showing how he leaves a plane accompanied by police men. It was aired on 15 November 1961 on TF 1 News. [Update: this news flash was compiled from archival footage shot in July, at Orly airport near Paris].
"I'm Black, I'm blind, I once fooled around with drugs, but all of it was like going to school - and I've tried to be a good student. I don't regret a damn thing," he later said.
|Washington Afro-American, 28 Nov. 1961|
|Baltimore Afro-American, 21 Nov. 1961 (front page).|
|Baltimore Afro-American, 21 Nov. 1961 (p. 2, cont'd).|