By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
As Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and Escambia County Sheriff’s Office investigators wrapped up a criminal probe that led to the arrest of a former county jail officer, State Bureau of Investigation agents began looking into the death of an inmate inside the jail. (The two incidents are unrelated.)
Sheriff Heath Jackson reported Monday (April 19) the April 16 arrest of 36-year-old Bethany Meagan Whiting of Brewton, a former correctional officer at the Escambia County Detention Center.
Jackson said Whiting resigned her position shortly after the onset of an investigation into the smuggling of drugs and other contraband into the facility. She is free on $100,000 bond after being processed into her former workplace on charges of violating professional ethics by using her position for personal gain.
According to Jackson, his former employee was a willing conduit for those involved in the jailhouse drug trade.
“She wasn’t working at the jail when she was arrested; she had resigned a while back, when the investigation was going on,” the sheriff said. “She is accused of smuggling Spice and methamphetamine into the jail while she was employed as a correctional officer. She would collect money from an inmate, and in return she would smuggle contraband into the facility.”
Jackson stressed that he would continue his “zero tolerance” policy with regard to criminal activity among ECSO’s sworn officers.
“We will continue to hold our employees accountable and prosecute anyone who decides to tarnish the badge that most of us so proudly wear,” he said. “We refuse to let a few bad apples spoil the bunch and will continue to make an example out of anyone who breaches the public’s trust.”
The sheriff also announced Monday that SBI agents were investigating the death of an inmate who was found dead in his cell or barracks, also on April 16.
Reports show that emergency medical personnel were dispatched to the county jail in response to a medical emergency. EMS pronounced the inmate dead at the scene.
Jackson pointed out that such an investigation is a matter of protocol when a person dies while in the custody of any agency.
“No foul play is suspected in this case, and an autopsy will be conducted by the Mobile Regional Laboratory,” he said. “As is customary in all custody deaths, the State Bureau of Investigation will handle the investigation, per our request.”
He added that the unidentified inmate “was not a local resident and was being housed per a contract with another agency.”