I thought that I had heard of almost everything, but a state correctional inmate receiving a marijuana delivery while working on a road crew was a new one. A Florida inmate was working with other inmates when a black Dodge Charger drove by and something was tossed out the window. The inmate picked up the bag, but after seeing police officers approach, the man threw the baggie. In another odd twist, when the man tossed the baggie, it hit a deputy standing nearby. The substance in the baggie was later tested and found to be marijuana.
Misdemeanor Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana and Contraband Charges
If this had happened in Pennsylvania, the inmate would obviously be charged with Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana under 35 P.S. § 780-113(a)(31). This ungraded misdemeanor charge prohibits a person from possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana for personal use and carries a maximum sentence of 30 days incarceration and a $500.00 fine. A Pennsylvania drug possession charge results in a suspension of Pennsylvania driving privileges.
Because the man was an inmate, he would also face a charge of Contraband under 18 Pa.C.A. § 5123. Contraband charges involve criminal conduct committed by inmates or on prison grounds, and these offenses are treated more seriously to increase the safety of correctional employees. In this case, the charge of Contraband for possessing even a small amount of marijuana would be a second-degree felony, which would subject the inmate to a maximum sentence of 10 years incarceration and a $25,000.00 fine.
Inmate Misconduct Prohibits Parole
In most Pennsylvania cases, the judge imposes a minimum and maximum sentence, and many people do not understand what that actually means. In a typical second-offense DUI case in the highest tier of penalties, the judge imposes a sentence of 90 days to 5 years incarceration. This means that the person must spend at least the minimum sentence of 90 days in jail, and after 90 days, the person is eligible to be released on parole supervision by a probation and parole department. Parole eligibility does not mean that the inmate is released. If the inmate got into trouble at the facility, the person could be cited with a prison misconduct. Committing a new criminal offense would clearly constitute a prison misconduct, but a misconduct could also occur for a violation of prison conduct rules that are not full blown criminal offenses. For example, I had a client working in the kitchen in the Centre County Prison, and he received a misconduct for giving out extra hamburgers. In Centre County, an inmate is not paroled until they have been misconduct-free for at least 30 days. If an inmate is not paroled, then the inmate will remain in prison until the inmate serves the maximum sentence.
The inmate in this story is unlikely to be paroled at his minimum because of the new drug possession offense. On top of that, the sentence on the new charge may run consecutively, meaning it is added to the sentence that the man is already serving. While the man only possessed a small amount of marijuana, his status as an inmate means that this relatively minor offense is likely to add a considerable amount of time to the sentence that he is already serving.