Woman accused of trying to smuggle phones to son

Published 9:47 pm Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department was forced to confront a recurring problem Tuesday, when they discovered someone trying to smuggle contraband to an inmate at the Dallas County Courthouse Annex.

Anna Jones, a 57-year-old Selma woman, allegedly smuggled a bag of cell phones into the facility for her son, according to Capt. Mike Granthum with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department.

She was arrested and charged Tuesday with third-degree promoting prison contraband. She made a $3,000 bond and was released.

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“We’re starting to catch a lot more [contraband],” Granthum said. “We’re starting to see a lot more people being charged with it, and the main thing they’re turning in is cigarettes and cell phones.”

Jones’s son was one of about five inmates being sent to the Dallas County Courthouse.

He was about to be placed in a waiting room in the Courthouse Annex building with the others when an officer noticed a bag of cell phones in the room.

Dallas County Chief Deputy Randy Pugh looked at the video footage and saw Jones walking into the waiting room.

“She had a purse on her side, and it appeared that she was holding something,” Granthum said. “She walked in there, and motioned for another person to come down the hall.”

When deputies found Jones in courtroom and questioned her about the situation, she initially denied it, according to Granthum.

“When we showed her the video, her story changed a little bit,” Granthum said. “She did admit to bringing cell phones in to her son.”

Jones’ privileges to visit the jail were suspended, and she won’t be allowed to have contact for a period of time.

Because inmates have plenty of free time to ponder how they can sneak items in to the facility, correctional officers often have a tough time detecting the promotion of smuggled goods.

“[Inmates] have 24 hours to sit there and think of ways to beat a correctional officer, and a correctional officer has a lot of stuff to do,” Granthum said. “Sometimes, things are going to be missed. It’s tough on an officer.”

Granthum believes the department’s decision to “beef up security” and update its cameras systems has led to more arrests.

Anytime an inmate is moved or transported, an officer examines the area he or she is going to before the inmate arrives and looks again once they leave. Correctional officers also search the inmate.

The cameras in the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department have been set up for the past two years, and they recently stationed them to cover more of the outside area of the department.

While cell phones may seem nonthreatening to most, Granthum said it has the potential to cause dangerous situations inside of a jail.

“People have been transported to the hospital over a cell phone fight,” Granthum said. “To you and me in the free world, it may not be that big, but in there it’s valuable.”

Pugh, who has served as the Dallas County Jail’s warden, said it’s nearly impossible to completely eliminate contraband in any county jail in the United States.

“If any warden anywhere says that he doesn’t have any contraband, he’s lying,” Pugh said. “You can control it the best you can, but you can’t stop it a 100 percent.”