Hayneville man among correctional officers arrested at Staton

Published 10:23 am Wednesday, May 31, 2017

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Special to the Signal

The Alabama Department of Corrections has arrested five correctional officers, including a Hayneville man, on charges of using their position for personal gain following a three-month investigation at the Staton Correctional Facility in Elmore.

According to the Alabama Department of Corrections, agents with the ADOC made the arrests at the prison on May 24 and 26.

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The ADOC Investigations and Intelligence Division’s Corruption and Fraud Task Force initiated the investigation after receiving information of a suspected bribery scheme involving officers and inmates.  In return for giving inmates contraband such as drugs and cellphones, investigators found that the inmates were using the cellphones to illegally purchase items for the officers in exchange for contraband.

“After months of investigating this case, our corruption and fraud task force uncovered the bribery scheme involving correctional officers who are sworn to protect the public, but instead chose to use their position to illegally further their self-interest,” said ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn.

Authorities have identified the following officers who were arrested and charged in the case:

Joshua Alexander, 26, of Hayneville, Ronald Dickerson, 23, of Montgomery, Patrick Jones, 42, of Montgomery, Leonard Scott, 31, of Montgomery and Jarod McDowell, 29, of Wetumpka.

Dunn added that his department began the process of establishing the corruption and fraud task force in 2016 to uncover and eradicate employee and inmate corruption in Alabama prisons. The ADOC fully staffed the task force in February 2017.

“Our department has zero tolerance for corruption among our officers and employees and we will do everything within our authority to ensure those who choose to engage in criminal activity are terminated from employment and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Dunn said.

The DOC investigation revealed the officers accepted bribes ranging from home electronics, clothing, and automobile accessories; to a cruise purchased by inmates who were using contraband cellphones for creating online money accounts that facilitated the scheme.  There are pending charges against the inmates involved as well.

In addition to forming the corruption and fraud task force, ADOC has increased facility inspections and searches and is in the process of installing new body scanners in its facilities for finding and detecting contraband.  The department is considering trained canine units as an option for interdicting the contraband cellphones.

To further address the problem at the national level, Dunn and corrections directors from other states met with FCC officials in Washington DC in March to evaluate available technologies that could one day render them ineffective inside prisons.

Dunn said the ADOC has made it a top priority to eliminating corruption and finding solutions for making the contraband cellphones inoperable inside state prisons.  In 2016, ADOC seized more than 3,500 illegal cellphones and made over 70 contraband arrests.

In responding to the arrests, Dunn said, “the vast majority of our correctional officers are committed to his and her profession and want to do what’s right for the good of the department and for the citizens of our state.   Those who do a disservice to the department by failing to uphold the public’s trust represent a very small percentage of our total workforce.”

The public can report a corruption claim to the Department of Corrections online by going towww.doc.alabama.gov, or by calling the ADOC Corruption Hotline number at 1-866-293-7799.