11:53 JST, August 19, 2022
A Tennessee woman is facing murder charges after allegedly smuggling methamphetamine into prison and passing it through a kiss to her incarcerated boyfriend, who later died of an overdose.
Rachal Dollard, 33, was arrested over the weekend and charged with second-degree murder and introduction of contraband into a penal facility, the Tennessee Department of Correction said in a news release. Authorities said she was spotted giving drugs to Joshua Brown as the two shared a kiss during a February visit at the Turney Center Industrial Complex. Brown swallowed a small balloon filled with half an ounce of methamphetamine and died at a hospital.
“This incident points to the real dangers of introducing contraband into prisons and the consequences that follow,” David Imhof, director of the department’s Office of Investigations and Conduct, said in a prepared statement. “Our agency will pursue prosecution against any individual who threatens the safety and security of our staff, the men and women in our custody, and our facilities.”
Brown, 30, had been serving an 11-year sentence on drug-related charges that was expected to end in 2029.
It was not clear on Thursday whether Dollard had obtained an attorney. She was stunned by her arrest, her mother said in an interview with NBC News.
“She says she didn’t do it. She says that’s not what happened, that she didn’t do it, that she didn’t do this. She cared a lot about Josh,” Sonia Dollard told the outlet. “I wasn’t there, so I don’t know, but she’s denying this happened.”
Rachal Dollard is not the first to be arrested for a jailhouse kiss that turned fatal. An Oregon woman, Melissa Ann Blair, was arrested after passing seven tiny methamphetamine-filled balloons to her boyfriend, Anthony Powell, while kissing at the Oregon State Penitentiary in 2016. Two of the balloons ruptured in his stomach, and he died of methamphetamine toxicity, the New York Post reported.
Blair was sentenced in 2017 to two years in prison on a drug conspiracy charge. A judge said at the time that while it was “tragic and sad,” Powell “shares responsibility for what happened.”
A Tennessee Department of Correction spokeswoman did not immediately respond to inquiries into how Dollard was able to sneak drugs into the facility. The news release about her arrest said the department “employs a variety of tools to try to prevent the introduction of contraband into Tennessee prisons.” Those tools include pat-downs of those entering facilities, vehicle and cell searches and drug-sniffing dogs. Body scanners are also being added.
Dollard could face up to 60 years behind bars if found guilty of the murder charge. In the interview with NBC News, her mother said that, “we’ve all been kind of blindsided by this.”
“It’s a tragic, tragic, tragic thing for Josh’s family and our family, and we are just praying for God to come into this and help us all through it,” she added.