State v. Jason Paul Arnold, K16-173
LA PLATA, MD—Tony Covington, State’s Attorney for Charles County announced that on June 1, 2016, Charles County Circuit Court Judge H. James West sentenced a former Charles County Detention Center (CCDC) Correctional Officer to 90 days in jail for having sexual relations with an inmate.
Jason Paul Arnold of La Plata, who recently resigned as a Correctional Officer with the Charles County Sheriff’s Office, engaged in sexual acts with a female inmate while on duty at the jail. At his plea hearing, the State outlined the evidence against Arnold. In March of 2015, Arnold was escorting a female inmate to the vending area at the CCDC, he took the woman into a closet and the two engaged in sexual conduct, which included the woman performing fellatio on Arnold. Prior to this sexual encounter, Arnold had been exchanging notes of a sexual nature with the female inmate. According to the evidence described by the State, Arnold had at least one other sexual encounter with this same female inmate and also exchanged notes with other female inmates.
The charges came to light in July of 2015 and were investigated by the Charles County Sheriff’s Office. The investigation was submitted to the State’s Attorney’s Office and the State’s Attorney issued the charges by way of a Criminal Information on March 1, 2016. Arnold was placed on administrative leave when the investigation began and eventually resigned prior to his plea of guilty and sentencing, both of which occurred on June 1, 2016.
At sentencing, Assistant State’s Attorney, Francis J. Granados told the judge, “The sentencing guidelines are probation to probation, but this is not a guidelines case. What type of message would it send to the community if an officer who abuses his power in this way is simply given probation, a slap on the wrist, and sent on his way? The State requests that the defendant have his rights and his liberties stripped away in the same way as the inmates whom he was entrusted to oversee. The defendant will be entrusted to a facility that will respect his rights and his dignity: something that he did not do for the victim in this case”.
Judge West, agreeing with Granados, told Arnold during sentencing, “I understand the guidelines are probation to probation, but that sentence doesn’t seem appropriate for the crime”. West said, “It is the expectation that people in a position of power are going to do the right thing and not prey on the vulnerable”.
“My thoughts are right in line with Judge West’s”, State’s Attorney Covington said. “This individual was placed in a position of trust. He, like all guards, had enormous control and power over all the inmates he oversaw. To take advantage of someone like that is flat out wrong, can’t be tolerated and should be punished. Judge West appropriately did so.” Covington said.
Kristen Williams, 301-932-3391