Three Russell County corrections officers now inmates themselves - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Three Russell County corrections officers now inmates themselves

RUSSELL COUNTY, AL (WTVM) -

Three men in charge of supervising inmates of the Russell County Jail have become inmates themselves, accused of selling marijuana to convicts who are serving time. 

Between Muscogee County in Georgia, and Russell County in Alabama, we have a total of four deputies arrested in the same week. 

Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor says he was conducting an investigation in his jail completely separate from anything happening in Columbus.  He didn't know what was happening across the river until he saw it in the news.

Taylor and his team spent weeks investigating their own deputies before arresting 27-year-old Brandon Williams, 27-year-old Justin Hill, and 40-year-old Oscar Hicks.

Not only are the guards being charged with smuggling marijuana into the jail, they're also being charged with accepting bribes. As law enforcement officers, anytime they commit a crime on the job and profit from it, that apparently qualifies as bribery.

The District Attorney says that where there is temptation and opportunity, there will always be those who want to take advantage of it.

On Thursday, July 31, Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr announced that one of his deputies in his jail is accused of doing the same thing.  At a press conference Friday, Aug. 1, Taylor was asked why so many guards appear to be engaging in bad behavior all of the sudden.

"I don't know that it's happening any more now than it ever has," Taylor replied. "I think the difference is, now we're really trying to weed it out. So it's one of those deals where, if you're really trying to weed it out, you're going to find some stuff."

Russell County District Attorney Kenneth Davis says, "Any community that has a corrections facility, that has a penal institution, faces this kind of potential for corruption or criminal activity every day."

Taylor says he wants all of his deputies to know that messing around at work like this will not only get them fired, they'll also be going to jail on very serious criminal charges.

"If this doesn't send a message to the rest of the guys, I don't know what will," he said.

Davis added that the stakes are much higher for corrections officers if they get into trouble, because the public's faith in the institutions of law and punishment rests on the integrity of the individuals who are a part of that process. 

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