Five inmates try 'fishing' for contraband

NEWPORT, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The old jail, as they call it in Cocke County, is on the third floor of the courthouse.

Built in 1930, it houses inmates who are working, trustees and women.

Chief Deputy John Carrell says five of those female inmates thought they would take advantage of the old building

"They had used a mop which is routinely put in the cell for maintenance to break a window," he says.

Carrell says someone was waiting down below to give the women contraband to bring into the jail.

They believe the group was going to reel in the goods with a sheet.

"In order to defeat the cameras which was used to monitor the cells they used stacked up totes that they are issued to store their personal belongings in to block their activities from the view of the camera."

Deputies caught the women before they were able to get anything inside.

Betsy Fine, Nancy Johnson, Penny South, Jessica Campbell and Crystal Melton are all charged with vandalism.

"This sort of action happens all the time," says Carrell, "When you lock someone up and they all this time on their hands all they have to do is sit and think about ways to get around the system."

Carrell says the damage is about one hundred dollars but the county's asking for restitution.

"We will increase supervision on them and try our best to head off any efforts they try for the future."

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