Woman arrested after caught trying to sneak drugs into jail

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   A Roan Mountain woman was arrested Sunday night after police saw her trying to sneak contraband to an inmate at the Carter County Jail.
   Teresa Hampton, 31, 450 Cloudland Dr., was arrested by Carter County Sheriff John Henson and Carter County Sheriff's Department Deputy Dave Ryan and charged with the introduction of contraband into a penal facility, possession of Schedule VI narcotics, possession of Schedule IV narcotics and possession of Schedule II narcotics.
   Henson said he saw Hampton trying to tie a makeshift package to a string which had been lowered from one of the windows of the jail. "We got on her pretty quick and she ran with the stuff," he said.
   Henson notified Ryan, who was inside the Sheriff's Department office, and asked him to get into his cruiser and help pursue the woman.
   Henson and Ryan stopped Hampton on U.S. Highway 19E in the area of the CVS Pharmacy, and she told police that she had been at the jail visiting her husband who is incarcerated there.
   "Sheriff Henson went to the passenger's side of the vehicle and observed a long object laying in the floorboard of the vehicle and the end was opened and what appeared to the Sheriff as marijuana was in plain view," Ryan said in his report on the incident.
   The object was two tube socks hooked together with one end open. The socks were wrapped with black electrical tape, and a hanger was constructed on the open end to allow the package to be pulled into the jail through the window.
   "When asked what was in the item Mrs. Hampton said it was items that she was trying to get to her husband in the jail," Ryan said. "Mrs. Hampton told Sheriff Henson that she was afraid if she didn't do what her husband wanted that he would be hurt while he was in the cell block."
   Henson said he did not believe the woman's story. "We found a letter in with the stuff and that wasn't the story in the letter," he said.
   Hampton was taken into custody and charged with the introduction of contraband into a penal facility.
   Henson and an agent of the First Judicial Drug Task Force took the package to the Sheriff's Department and opened it. They found tobacco, coffee, creamer, food items, the letter Henson mentioned, along with a marijuana cigarette, a pill described as a Schedule II narcotic and 14 pills described as Schedule IV narcotics. Additional narcotics charges were placed against Hampton.
   Henson said the introduction of contraband is a common problem. "It is a continuous hassle to try to keep stuff out of the jail," he said. "All jail facilities have the same problem."
   Contraband also causes other problems such as fights, according to Henson. Jail officials are currently working to resolve the problem.
   Beginning next week, inmates will have to start getting supplies - such as toothbrushes, shampoo and deodorant - from the jail's commissary instead of having the property dropped off for them by family or friends. "That will help cut down on people sneaking stuff in," Henson said.
   The jail's commissary will also be going to a "cash-less" system, where money left for inmates will be deposited to an account for them as opposed to being given directly to them. "There will be no cash in the jail; it will go into the inmate's account," Henson said. "That will cut down on a lot of our problems."
   According to Henson, giving the cash to the inmates for them to keep and spend creates a situation where other inmates assault them and take their money away in order to buy their needs from the commissary or to purchase contraband from other inmates. Henson said one of the most popular forms of contraband in the jail is tobacco since smoking has been banned inside the jail.
   "Whatever it takes to solve the problem, we'll solve it," he said.