Felicia and Alfred Miles of Sicklerville face five to 10 years in prison after authorities say they tried to bring contraband to their son, Chad B. Smith, at the Camden County Jail.
By Matt Skoufalos
A Sicklerville couple who allegedly tried to smuggle a straight razor and two box cutters to their jailed son as he awaited trial now faces five to 10 years for the attempt.
Felisha Miles, 49, and Alfred Miles, 64, were delivering clothes to Chad B. Smith, 30, of Camden, in advance of Smith’s August 31 trial date, and allegedly tried to hide the blades in the soles of the shoes he was to wear to court.
The contraband was discovered by security screeners at the Camden County Jail, however, and the pair was arrested on second-degree charges of assisting in or furnishing a felony implement for escape. Felisha Miles is being held on $35,000 bail; Alfred Miles, Smith’s stepfather, is being held on $50,000 bail. If convicted, they face five to 10 years in prison.
Camden County spokesperson Dan Keashen wouldn’t comment on the frequency of such attempts, noting only, “It has happened in the past.
“That’s why we have screening,” he said. “[Jails] are high-security zones.”
Keashen also declined to guess at any motive for the attempt, but noted that Smith “is an individual who’s facing a healthy jail sentence” for the September 2014 armed robbery of a truck driver in Lindenwold.
According to the South Jersey Times, Smith was arrested with a cell phone and credit card belonging to the victim as well as a revolver loaded with hollowpoint bullets. He has been in police custody for nearly a year on default of $205,000, full-cash bail.
Smith has faced criminal weapons charges before. In 2010, he served 10 months for second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun, and in 2009, he plea-bargained out of charges for aggravated assault with a blunt instrument.
‘The issue is power’
Paul McCauley, a former police officer and Professor Emeritus of Criminology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, said that although the Miles’ motives are unknown to him, contraband is typically smuggled into a prison environment as a means to power.
“The issue is power to do something,” McCauley said; “power to hurt someone else, power to hurt self.The inmate wanted power, and weapons give you power. What he was going to do with it, I haven’t any clue.”
McCauley also pointed out that the entire episode has generally backfired to the point of potentially aggravating Smith’s court appearance before it’s even begun.
Donald Leach, a prisons expert from Lexington, KY, suggested the weapons that the Mileses allegedly attempted to smuggle may have been intended “for commercial use” inside the jail, “where bartering takes place.”
Leach also said that Smith’s prior criminal history and the severity of the charges he faces may have been a motivating factor in his parents’ decision to go through with the attempt. He cited the significant, cash-only bail as an indicator of their “realization that [Smith is] going to be spending a long period of time in the prison system.
“Typically when a court sets a high, full-cash bond like that, they’re saying they don’t believe the individual is going to come back up to court,” Leach said.
McCauley and Leach also said that, based on their experience, when contraband is smuggled into a jail, whether by a family member or significant other, there are complicated dynamics at play.
“It’s just interesting that the family would bring these things in,” McCauley said. “Parents have some degree of loyalty to their children, I suspect, regardless of what they did.”
Leach summed it up as “a matter of individuals acting on their own vulnerabilities,” and added, “families can do that.
“The family’s on the outside, trying to do everything they can to facilitate the existence of the other person,” he said.