You are the owner of this article.

Jailer charged, fired over tobacco smuggling

A corrections officer with the Calhoun County Jail was charged last week for allegedly delivering contraband tobacco to an inmate.

Dalton Ray Summers, 20, of Weaver was charged with promoting prison contraband in the third degree after he was caught delivering six bundles of tobacco to an inmate who is charged with murder, according to Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade. Summers also was fired, he said.

“In the world of inmates this is called being made a duck,” Wade said on Friday. “This is a character issue, and wherever there are jails there will be inmates trying to get officers to bring them stuff. It’s not an excuse, it’s just a fact.”

Wade said corrections officers work 12-hour shifts at the jail, where inmates are constantly trying to get them to break the rules. He said if inmates can get an officer to break a small rule, it’s only a matter of time before they’ll get the guard to break bigger rules.

Summers told officers tobacco was the only thing he provided to the inmate, Wade said, but the sheriff said he was sure there was more.

“He said they tried to get him to bring cell phones, but he didn’t do that,” Wade said. “It’s one of those things where most people will tell you only part of the truth.”

Wade said Summers told officers the inmate’s mother supplied the contraband and paid Summers to deliver it to her son. Wade said he spoke with the inmate’s mother on Monday afternoon but couldn’t discuss what she said.

Bank records show Summers was making deposits outside of his regular work pay, according to the sheriff. Wade said Summers’ bank account shows that he made more than $4,000 from the contraband trade over “a couple of months.”

“The young man immediately said he was sorry, and I hate that he made that choice,” Wade said. “There weren’t any favors done for him. It would have been easier to just terminate him and move on, but that isn’t the right thing to do.”

Wade said he has had trouble both keeping people employed at the jail and finding those who want to work there in the first place. He said he’s had to arrest four corrections officers in his two-year tenure.

“Part of me is embarrassed and I don’t like it; it taints the people that go over there and work every day who are good people. It taints me as well,” he said. “It’s a multifaceted problem.”

Wade this summer publicly pleaded with elected officials to help improve pay for corrections officers after two of those officers were charged in subsequent weeks with having sex with inmates. The County Commission in September approved an increase in starting pay for jailers to $12 per hour from $10 per hour. Wade said Summers benefited from the pay increase.

Summers was freed the day of his arrest on a $3,000 bond, according to court records, with his court date set for Jan. 29.

No one answered the door at Summers’ apartment Tuesday afternoon.