January 29, 2023

A Screven County employee was arrested by the Sylvania Police Department for giving a contraband cell phone to an inmate at the Screven County Correctional Institute.

Hannah Reeves Derriso, 36 of Sylvania, was committed to the Screven County Jail on January 25, 2023 TGV news, investigators on January 25 filed warrants for Derriso’s arrest for actions involving the inmate’s cell phone, which was reportedly sent away for a forensic download early in the investigation. Derriso is the Electoral Officer for the Screven County Elections Bureau, located at the Screven County Courthouse in Sylvania. She also writes for The Sylvania times.

As part of an ongoing agreement between the Georgia Department of Corrections and Screven County, the Screven County Correctional Institute (SCCI) provides Screven County’s offices and buildings, including the courthouse, with a variety of work details for inmates.

SCCI is not the county jail run by Sheriff Mike Kile, but is a 125-inmate, medium-security facility for male delinquents. The facility is located on Rocky Ford Road and is operated by Warden Steve Scroggins.

Georgian law on providing smuggling

Under Georgian law, providing an inmate with a mobile phone is a criminal offense.

Mandatory prison sentences may apply depending on the sections of code for which a person is convicted.

According to OCGA § 42-5-18(b), it is unlawful for any person to “procure, procure, or give to an inmate a gun, pistol, or other weapon; any intoxicating alcohol; amphetamines, biphetamines or other hallucinogenic drugs or other drugs, regardless of the amount; any telecommunications device; or other articles or objects without the permission of the Warden or Superintendent or his or her designee.

Any person found guilty of this offense would face a penalty a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of two years but no longer than ten years. In addition, the court would be prohibited from suspending or probating the mandatory two-year minimum sentence, meaning the person must serve time in a state prison or a probationary prison term.

It is also worth noting that in 2017, the Georgia General Assembly amended the law to not discriminate in the punishment whether the inmate who was delivered contraband was inside or outside the facility at the time of the contraband delivery. That means the offense is the same regardless of where the person’s phone was made available.

Under OCGA § 42-5-16, it is unlawful for any person to deal or deal in, buy from, or sell to an inmate without the knowledge and consent of the Warden, Superintendent, or Designated Responsible Agent . Although this offense is still a felony, it carries a penalty of one to five years and no mandatory minimum sentence.

Dangerous smuggling problems across Georgia

Cell phone smuggling in Georgia prisons has frequently made headlines as cell phones owned by inmates have facilitated the operations of criminal enterprises. In southeast Georgia in particular, contraband cellphones have aided attacks and attempted murders of correctional officers, contract killings of innocent citizens, and dozens of other criminal acts involving drugs and violence.

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