A prison guard’s worst nightmare is for inmates to get their hands on handmade, and often makeshift, weapons, but the introduction of a gun brings a whole different level of danger to an already tense situation.
Because of the gravity of this scenario, courts do not hesitate to level serious criminal charges against people who violate prison rules by sneaking deadly weapons into incarceration facilities.
A recent decision by a court in Pennsylvania was no exception, as a man from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania was recently sentenced to several months in prison for smuggling a handgun into the Northampton County Prison, according to The Morning Call, a newspaper in the Lehigh Valley.
21-year-old Christian L. Neith was order to serve between four and 23 months in prison after he snuck a loaded pistol into the county prison after being arrested for a failure to pay child support.
Sources indicate that Neith was arrested last December after ignoring repeated warnings that his failure to pay child support would land him in jail.
In a bit of an embarrassment for prison officials, the arresting officers failed to find the handgun after four routine searches. In fact, Neith was searched twice by Bethlehem police, once by a deputy sheriff, and once by a prison guard, but none of these searchers were able to discover the pistol, which was resting quietly in Neith’s crotch holster.
After the police and prison officials neglected to discover the loaded gun, Neith simply hid the loaded pistol behind a cabinet in the prison’s intake area, where the gun resided for a week before prison officials finally discovered it.
The incident raised security alarms at the prison. After discovering the loaded weapon, the prison went on lockdown for four days. The leader of the guard’s union at the prison admitted that the discovery was “a prison’s worst nightmare.”
Not surprisingly, the guard who failed to discover the pistol during the intake search resigned after the incident, and the police officers and sheriff who also failed to find the weapon were subjected to individual disciplinary actions.
Still, the public’s confidence in the competence of Northampton County Prison’s employees has been shaken, and the prison will need a bit of time to recover the trust it has lost.
Meanwhile, Neith will also have to regain the trust of his family, and his judge. According to Judge F.P. Kimberly McFadden, who sentenced Neith for the gun crime, his decision “made no sense,” particularly in light of his status as an “honor roll student.”
In his defense, Neith admitted that he had made a mistake, and he took full responsibility for his actions, while noting that he only wished for “a second chance to turn my life around.”
And, while Neith attempts to turn his life around, a red-faced prison will try to turn around the effectiveness of its own security procedures.