JACKSON — Four women – including a mother, wife and girlfriend – are the latest individuals to be charged in the Mississippi Department of Corrections’ crackdown on visitors bringing in contraband at the state prisons.
The women were arrested at separate facilities in north and south Mississippi on Saturday. Their arrests come in the wake of another inmate’s mother being charged at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in late March.
“While we may not catch everyone who brings in illegal items to our prison system, we are determined to catch as many as we can,” said Commissioner Christopher B. Epps. “If you are bringing in drugs, cell phones or any other contraband, you never know when you may be caught.”
“Keeping out contraband continues to be one of our greatest challenges in corrections,” Epps said.
Susan Brewer, 58, of Waveland, and Keneithea Chanel Johnson, 35, of Columbia are charged with possession of a controlled substance, introduction of contraband and conspiracy following their arrests at South Mississippi Correctional Institution in Leakesville.
Brewer is the mother of Inmate Chris Mazur, 29, who is serving a three-year sentence from Hancock County for possession of a controlled substance. Johnson is the girlfriend of Inmate Torey Varnado, 30, who is serving nine years, four months and 21 days for uttering forgery out of Marion County.
Investigators with the Corrections Investigation Division seized about 55 grams of spice and 240 grams of tobacco with the two women’s arrests. Brewer and Johnson, who came to the prison together, were taken to Greene County Jail.
The two inmates also are charged with conspiracy from a three-week investigation.
Arrested in a separate case are Salinda Hemphill, 32, of Hattiesburg and India Shirley, 36, of Arlington, Tenn., at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.
Hemphill is charged with introduction of contraband after investigators found 18 Lorotab pills concealed on her body. She is the wife of Inmate Marcus Hemphill, 37, who is serving two sentences out of Choctaw County. Inmate Hemphill received life for armed robbery and 20 years for aggravated assault.
Shirley was scheduled to visit Inmate Kevin Jennings, a friend of hers who is serving 22 years for cocaine possession with an enhanced penalty. She is charged with five counts of conspiracy to introduce contraband.
Both women were booked at the Sunflower County Jail.
Introduction of contraband into a correctional facility is a felony punishable by three to 15 years in prison, a maximum $25,000 fine, or both.