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Local teen remains jailed on contraband charges

By By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
Oct. 1, 2002
A Meridian teen-ager remained in jail today after being arrested on felony contraband charges for trying to use a corrections officer to pass an unspecified amount of money to an inmate.
Christopher M. Deen, 17, 5504 Cherokee Road, was arrested Sunday night. Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie announced the arrest and charge at a news conference Monday.
If convicted, Sollie said, Deen could be sentenced two to 15 years in prison and fined up to $10,000. Sollie said Deen tried to pass money to a relative in jail.
Contraband can include money, firearms and tobacco. It also can include controlled substances such as marijuana, cocaine and other drugs.
The Sheriff's Department conducted an undercover operation involving Philip Frazier, a corrections officer.
Frazier was promoted to deputy, but remained as a corrections officer for the undercover operation. Sollie removed Frazier from the operation after six weeks.
This was the first undercover operation in the Lauderdale Count jail in the last two years.
At any given time, Sollie said, he has 250 to 300 inmates who've conned people all their lives. Corrections officers likely know most of the inmates held in jail.
Sollie said the inmates use coercion and intimidation to get the corrections officers to bring in contraband. If just a pack of cigarettes is brought in, he said, the officer loses his authority.
Sollie said inmates are allowed to receive money orders, which are directly deposited into inmate accounts so they can use it to buy food and toiletries from the canteen.
He said the inmate never sees the money and "orders items off a checklist."
Maj. Ward Calhoun with the Sheriff's Department said that inmates could use cash to buy tobacco, drugs and sex.