Lauderdale County, Miss. A prison guard at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility is accused of inappropriate contact with an inmate.
Investigators say 38-year-old Cassandra Davenport of Meridian had sex with one of the inmates while she worked at the facility.
The sheriff's department says an offense like this could pose a threat to everyone.
"Obviously, it's against the law. It's against the law for a reason," said Maj. Casey McElhenney, criminal investigations commander for the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department. "It presents a dangerous situation for everybody involved. And especially for MTC because, you know, there's partiality showed to that inmate because of that relationship, which may put somebody else's life in danger."
The penalty for a sexual relationship between a guard and inmate shows how severe that danger is. Depending upon a judge's ruling, Davenport could face a maximum of five years in prison, if convicted.
Davenport was initially being investigated on suspicion of bringing in contraband such as tobacco or food to inmates. But authorities said that investigation quickly led to the discovery of her relationship with an inmate.
McElhenney says there have been less serious crimes within the prison since Management and Training Corporation took over the facility, but the prisoners are always on the lookout for an opportunity to acquire goods from outside the facility.
"Keeping a handle on that is very important," McElhenney said. "These guys look for anything and everything they can get their hands on and any way they can sneak it in. If they bribe and lie and pretend to be in a relationship with someone in order to get stuff in, they'll do that."
Davenport was never charged with bringing in the prohibited goods, but that investigation is still ongoing. Officials say she was immediately fired, following her arrest.
Davenport is charged with sex with an incarcerated offender by a jailer. She was released from the Lauderdale County Jail on $5,000 bond.