Oregon Corrections Officers Charged With Several Offenses

An Oregon couple was arrested last week on charges of unlawful manufacture of marijuana, sexual misconduct, official misconduct, and supplying contraband, according to reports from Oregon’s Argus Observer. The catch? These two aren’t your average civilians-they both worked in Oregon’s Snake River Correctional Institution.

Tomi Sue Fowler, 39, and James Matthew Fowler, 29, are facing a variety of criminal charges. Tomi Fowler, who is being charged with the sex-related crimes, allegedly had intercourse with a male inmate in May or June of this year. Tomi insists these charges are false.

Salem News reports that the inmate who is accusing Tomi of sexual misconduct described the elaborate tattoos on Tomi’s back when reporting the incident. According to the article, though, Tomi claims the inmate learned the details of her body art during a conversation they’d held while he was conducting his orderly duties one day.

The contraband charges stem from Tomi’s alleged habit of bringing caffeine pills to work, often swallowing them while on duty. The same inmate who was involved in the sexual misconduct incident was reportedly the one who told officials about Tomi’s pills. The Observer reports that he is scheduled to testify in her trial.

Sources indicate that both Tomi and her husband are now on administrative leave from the correctional facility. They are scheduled to enter pleas in early October. This case is not only intriguing in its scope and reversal-of-norms, it also illustrates a couple of interesting points.

For example, some sources report that James Fowler was suffering from cancer during the time of the investigation, and was growing marijuana in anticipation of getting a physician’s permission to use the plant for medical reasons. Because he allegedly had no proof of such medical intentions, his criminal defense was unable to convince the police officers searching his house.

Additionally, Tomi Fowler was reportedly employed by Snake River for eight years without incident. The only witness in the case is a convicted felon already behind bars.

So what’s a correctional officer to do? Luckily (or perhaps unluckily, in the Fowlers’ case), nobody is exempt from the law. That includes both the law enforcers and the convicted criminals. Whether this is ultimately a case of corruption of authority, criminal deceit, or elaborate misunderstanding is unclear at this juncture.

According to the Observer, officials at the facility consider the Fowlers’ situation “unfortunate,” rare, and, sadly, likely to overshadow the usually-commendable behavior of the employees there.