A former prison inmate was arrested this month, suspected of mailing postcards and letters soaked in methamphetamine to the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.
Initially the man was arrested for refusing to take a drug test as a condition of his parole. A search of his home turned up two handguns, one of which had been reported stolen; methamphetamine; several postcards; and documents listing inmates' names and addresses, how many grams of meth were on each postcard and a chart listing street and prison values for the drug. One of the postcards tested positive for drugs and prison officials said similar meth-laced postcards had been mailed to inmates at the Walla Walla prison.
Investigators said money from the sale of the drug-dipped postcards was funding a street gang and giving the gang members greater control of the drug trade at the prison.
During a preliminary court hearing, bail was set at $200,000 for the man who was charged with suspicion of unlawful firearms possession, possessing a stolen firearm, manufacturing meth, possessing the drug with the intent to sell it, introducing contraband into a prison and reckless endangerment. The endangerment charge was introduced because there were two children in his home who had access to the guns and drugs. The man is already on parole following a 13-month sentence for assault in the second degree.
Introducing contraband into prisons has consequences for both the supplier of the illegal goods and the inmate in whose possession they are found. The severity of the punishment if convicted is dependant upon the type of contraband.
A person is guilty of introducing contraband in the first degree if he or she knowingly provides any deadly weapon to any person confined in a prison or jail. It is a Class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, or a fine of up to $25,000, or both.
A person is guilty of introducing contraband in the second degree if he or she knowingly and unlawfully provides contraband to any person confined in a prison or jail with the intent that the contraband will facilitate an escape or the commission of a crime. It is a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, or a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
A person is guilty of introducing contraband in the third degree if he or she knowingly and unlawfully provides contraband to any person confined in a prison or jail. It is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail, or a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
An exception is made for attorney's visiting their clients, provided the attorney:
- Is present when the materials are being reviewed or handled by the client; and
- Takes the materials when leaving the prison or jail.
As for prisoners receiving the contraband, if they are found in possession of any narcotic drug or controlled substances, alcohol, marijuana or other intoxicant; or a cell phone or other electronic communications device, they are guilty of a Class C felony and the sentence imposed will be in addition to the sentence they already are serving.
No matter the crime or the circumstances, every defendant has a right to representation by a qualified attorney. If you have been arrested and face criminal charges, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.