Women jailers get judicial diversion after sex with inmates

Two former Scott County jail employees, both women, have been granted judicial diversion –  they will serve no time behind bars and can have their records wiped clean after good behavior during a three-year probationary period – on charges involving having sex with inmates, according to the News Sentinel.

In one case, the woman has since married the inmate after the one-time episode. The other was described by her attorney as a troubled person who has turned a new leaf in her life.

Eighth Judicial District Criminal Court Judge Shayne Sexton granted Deana Shedara Keith judicial diversion in an official misconduct case filed against her after she confessed having sex with an inmate she was supposed to be guarding at the Scott County Jail last year where she worked as a corrections officer.

…Tabitha Wilson, another Scott County jailer, also confessed a separate affair – involving repeated encounters not only at the jail but at her home while the inmate was supposed to be on work release – during the same time frame. She, too, pleaded guilty to official misconduct and was granted diversion Monday.

Wilson was a married mother of two. Keith was single and, according to defense attorney Kimberly Parton, has since married the inmate.

Sexton earlier this year resisted the idea of diversion because of a law change passed in the wake of a Knox County judicial scandal that barred elected or appointed officials the special privilege if their crimes involved their jobs. Sexton was the first judge in the state to question the scope of that law and whether it included public employees. The state Attorney General’s office has since opined the Legislature only intended for the law to bar officeholders, not employees, such as rogue cops, misbehaving jailers, thieving government workers or even public employee supervisors.

… Prosecutor Philip Kazee balked at diversion for the pair. “We’re sending a message to corrections officers that you can have sex with inmates, and you can have it wiped off your record,” he said.

Sexton disagreed. “One of the options the court has with diversion is if that doesn’t work, we can come back in here,” he said.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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