Tuesday, November 23, 1999

Visitor accused of slipping drugs into inmate's coffee

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        TURTLECREEK TOWNSHIP — Forget the cream and sugar. An inmate at Warren Correctional Institution got something much stronger in his coffee this past weekend: marijuana and cocaine, authorities said.

        Angela R. Dickard, 21, of Dayton, Ohio, is accused of putting several drug-laden balloons into the coffee she was sharing with an inmate during a visit at the prison Saturday.

        Authorities think the inmate may have planned to conceal the drugs and later use them, said Lt. John Born, spokesman for the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the agency charged with investigating alleged crimes at state prisons.

        Officials said they recovered 10 balloons from Ms. Dickard.

        The agency and the prison are investigating whether the inmate should face criminal charges as a result of the incident, said the patrol's Sgt. Gary Lewis.

        The incident comes at a time when Ohio lawmakers are considering stiffer penalties for smuggling drugs into prisons.

        Rep. Gary Cates, R-West Chester, gained a legislative committee's unanimous approval earlier this month on a measure that would make the crime punishable by a minimum sentence of a year. Under current law, a person convicted of bringing drugs onto prison property could be sentenced to as little as six months.

        Ms. Dickard appeared in Lebanon Municipal Court on Monday, facing two felony charges: possession of crack cocaine and illegal conveyance of drugs into a detention facility.

        She was being held in the Warren County Jail.

        “We're still trying to send a message: If you do this, you will become an inmate yourself,” Sgt. Lewis said.

        Steve Bowman, acting warden at the prison, said, “It's part of our continuing effort of zero tolerance for drugs.”

        Inmates and staff of all Ohio prisons may be subjected to random urine tests for drugs. And despite this incident, Warren Correctional has noted no increase in positive drug tests recently, Mr. Bowman said.

        Warren Correctional houses about 1,380 “close-security” inmates, a step below maximum, and usually ranks near the state average for positive drug tests.

        Last year, 1.9 percent of Warren's inmates tested positive for drugs, near the state average of about 1.6 percent.


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- Visitor accused of slipping drugs into inmate's coffee