February5 , 2023

The great vape escape: Arkansas jailer who let out an inmate and gave her a weed vape faces criminal charges

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Perry County jail employee has been charged with first-degree permitting escape and furnishing, possessing or using prohibited articles.

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A worker at Arkansas’ Perry County Jail has gotten the boot after aiding the escape of an inmate and reportedly giving her a cannabis vape to use.

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The “breakout” occurred just after midnight on Sept. 24, according to a statement from the Perry County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO). That is when assistant jail administrator Abby Strange, who had just finished her shift, helped inmate Sandra Rappold leave the detention centre, the PCSO reports.

This quiet getaway was accomplished after Strange had disabled the audio to the door alarm and then passed Rappold keys so she could open the women’s pod door. The two then made off in Stange’s vehicle, the police note.

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But the great escape didn’t last for long.

Although the women were seen leaving the centre together, an on-duty dispatcher later noticed a warning indicating that the door to the pod was ajar. The jailer was informed and, checking things out, discovered that Rappold was not there.

PCSO officials were notified and immediately responded. But by the time they reached the scene, deputies had already rounded up both the jailer and inmate and returned both to the detention centre.

It’s been suggested that Strange surreptitiously released Rappold to allow her to have a quick vape session, either alone or with the jailer, the PCSO statement reports only that the now-former employee “furnished Rappolid with a vape containing marijuana” while the two were out.

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After being fired, Strange was arrested and charged with impairing the operation of a vital public facility, permitting escape in the first degree and furnishing, possessing or using prohibited articles. Rappold, for her part, faces one count of third-degree escape.

Recreational cannabis remains illegal in Arkansas. Indeed, a first offence for possessing less than four ounces (113 grams) of weed is punishable by as much as a year in jail and a fine of US$2,500, notes the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Possession of drug paraphernalia with purpose to use carries the same maximum penalties, NORML reports.

Some Reddit commenters blasted existing weed laws in Arkansas and supported allowing weed sessions in designated areas.

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“Too bad its a backward ass state with sh***y weed laws. But if you are in jail for something not-totally-evil there shouldn’t be a problem with lighting up at specific points like when you are in the yard etc… like cigs,” one suggested.

But other commenters found the whole explanation of what happened as wildly suspicious. “There’s got to be more to this story. It’s unlikely she decided, on a whim, to let the inmate out so they could smoke some pot together. Something bigger is connecting them,” another noted.

It’s certainly not the only time jailers and inmates have been implicated in something cannabis-related, but most times these illicit interactions have something to do with the alleged smuggling of contraband.

Examples of these ill-fated partnerships include, among other places, Georgia, Florida and Nebraska.

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