TDOC investigation nabs East Tennessee jail contraband ring

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MORGAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee Department of Correction said Friday a group of East Tennessee residents and inmates have been charged in an extensive TDOC investigation into the introduction of contraband into state prisons.

TDOC’s Office of Investigations & Compliance, in conjunction with the interdiction team and prison staff, resulted in charges ranging from drug possession, simple assault, and introduction of contraband into a penal facility.  The indictments were issued by the Morgan County Grand Jury and warrants were served on Thursday by TDOC agents with the assistance of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Morristown Police Department and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

Julia Short of Anderson County, Billy Nichols of Morgan County, and Abigail Ware of Knox County were all charged in the operation.

According to TDOC, Short is a former correctional officer who was also charged with official misconduct. Additional warrants were served on two inmates at the Morgan County Correctional Complex. Inmate Derrick Campbell was charged with two counts of Schedule II drugs and two counts of introduction of contraband into a penal facility. Inmate Jerrell Sizemore was charged with aggravated assault. 

TDOC says its non-negotiable mission is to operate safe and secure prisons and provide effective community supervision in order to enhance public safety.  The introduction of contraband into a penal facility is not only a threat to the safety and security of state facilities but it is also a violation of state law.  These operations illustrate that contraband is not just a TDOC issue but a community issue.

“The introduction of contraband into one of our prisons by anyone is a felony offense and a threat to the safety of our team, the offenders we supervise and the public,” TDOC Commissioner Tony Parker said. “We remain committed to working with local law enforcement to vigorously prosecute anyone who attempts to bring in contraband whether it is an inmate, visitor or staff. 

TDOC encourages anyone with information about potential security concerns or contraband to call the department’s 24-hour anonymous tip line, 1-844-TDC-FIND (1-844-832-3463).

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