Henderson Co. jailer charged with giving contraband to inmates - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Henderson Co. jailer charged with giving contraband to inmates

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A former Henderson Deputy Jailer is on the other side of the law on Friday night, suspected of smuggling contraband to inmates.

Officials say 40-year-old James Earl Hamm is charged with promoting contraband and official misconduct. Jail official tell us he was caught giving tobacco product and a lighter inmates.

Working in the jail is no easy job, officials tell 14 News. There's an incredible amount of pressure on the staff. Pressure, that the inmates use to their advantage.

Officials tell us based on the way some staff members carry themselves, inmates peg them as 'dirty deputies,' believing they can smooth talk them into whatever they want.

Colonel Leslie Gibson says Deputy Jailer James Hamm was supposed to be working on Friday.

"Instead of coming in, in the uniform, he's not sitting in an orange uniform in a cell," Leslie.

Leslie says she received information that Deputy Hamm was smuggling contraband to an inmate.

"He admitted that he brought in contraband more than once and also incinerating device, which is a lighter and that's a very serious contraband that you can bring into the facility is a lighter," says Leslie.

Colonel Gibson says during the hiring process, some individuals struggle, but says they can usually tell which ones will be easily influenced. It appears, in this case, an inmate saw James Hamm as an easy target.

"Inmates will ask you to do anything, they will manipulate you, that's what they do, and we also explain to them, if they cross that line, then this is the result, we will press charges," says Leslie.

So what does the jailer get out of it? Leslie says sometimes inmates contact family members to arrange for payments.

"This was not that case, it was a matter of a friendship had developed, a friendship with the inmate," says Leslie.

Gibson says employees are there to do a job, not to be friends.

"If you do anything for an inmate, anything, whatever it be, give an extra lunch tray which is very minor. If you do that, then next time it's going to be something different," says Leslie. "They're going to ask you and they're going to push the limits."

Officials say Hamm was employed for less than six months and they routinely check in with even veteran employees if staff members notice someone getting a little too friendly with the inmates.

"You never know what amount of money somebody could offer deputy and if they need that money that bad, they will bring it into the facility," says Leslie.

Jail officials tell there is a high turnover rate for employee because it requires mental toughness.

Gibson says employees are busy from the moment the step on the floor, to the moment the walk out the door.

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