A Letcher Circuit Court jury on Monday sentenced an inmate in the Letcher County Jail to eight more years in prison for possessing methamphetamines while incarcerated.
The jury found Clint Collins, 42, of Cinnamon Drive, Whitesburg, guilty to first-degree possession of methamphetamine and first-degree promoting contraband, both felonies. The jury sentenced him to the maximum on both charges, with the sentences to run consecutive to one another. A misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia was dismissed.
Collins is the first of 11 inmates to stand trial in a jail sweep conducted last year after another inmate overdosed on methamphetamines in his cell. Three others have pleaded guilty.
The case is thought to be the first of its kind here. The inmates were charged after Jailer Bert Slone obtained search warrants for their urine to prove they had been in possession of methamphetamine.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Edison Banks said after the first inmate in cell 121 overdosed, jailers took everyone else in that cell to the hospital to be xrayed for containers in their stomachs or colons, and even though they had been searched before transporting them, meth powder and an empty vial was found in the back seat of the jail’s car after three of the inmates were removed from it at the emergency room entrance. He said all of the inmates that had been in the cell refused to give urine samples. After a search warrant was issued, urine samples were obtained and all were positive for methamphetamine, Banks said. Given the time they had been in jail, that would have been impossible unless they had taken meth after their arrests, since small doses stay in the blood for just 72 hours, and even big users don’t test positive after 7 to 10 days.
Slone said Tuesday that the jury verdict should send a strong message.
“To me, that says a jury in Letcher County finds it offensive that people will use drugs while in the jail,” he said.
Slone has encountered some criticism from jail employees in some other counties and from others for bringing criminal charges against the inmates, but he said he feels strongly that inmates should be obeying the law while they are incarcerated.
“This causes me a hardship, because the jail is already overcrowded,” he said. “If I have to be overcrowded because they’re stupid enough to use drugs, I’ll just have to be overcrowded.”