Clayton correctional officer becomes 7th jail employee arrested in 2023

Accused of trying to enter facility with contraband items
A Clayton County correctional officer attempted to bring contraband into the jail, the sheriff said.

A Clayton County correctional officer attempted to bring contraband into the jail, the sheriff said.

A Clayton County correctional officer was arrested and fired for attempting to take contraband into the jail, according to Sheriff Levon Allen.

Officer Desiree Lowery was stopped by a supervisor Saturday with the contraband and then attempted to leave, Allen said in a news release. On Sunday, the 27-year-old from Decatur was arrested and terminated.

“Desiree Lowery exchanged her employee badge number for an inmate LE number, exchanged her officer title for an inmate title, exchanged her blue uniform for an orange uniform, and exchanged her clean record for four felony charges,” the sheriff’s office said.

It was the seventh arrest this year involving jail employees or contractors, part of an operation Allen has dubbed “Operation Clean House” since being elected this year. He won a runoff election in April to replace Sheriff Victor Hill, who began serving an 18-month sentence in an Arkansas prison in May for violating the civil rights of inmates by strapping them into restraint chairs as punishment. Allen was promoted from chief deputy to interim sheriff in late December.

Most recently, a jail nurse was arrested in July after she allegedly tried to smuggle contraband items, including cellphones and drugs, to inmates, the sheriff’s office previously said.

Geraldine Layura Moore took a plastic bag of the banned items into the jail and placed it in a trash bin that inmates frequently clean, Allen said. Then, Moore walked away from the bag. Investigators then seized the bag and Moore’s possessions, which included Percocet pills, Allen said.

“I would rather have one good deputy than 100 crooked ones,” Allen said after Moore’s arrest. “I won’t stop until I get every last one of them out of my agency.”

In June, Allen announced the arrests of two employees in consecutive days.

A contractor, Iyana Dixon, was charged with financial transaction card fraud and theft and accused of stealing an inmate’s credit card and using it at a Macy’s. A day later, the sheriff said a fellow contractor, Sarai Ali, was arrested for allegedly aiding wanted people, sharing confidential information and encouraging people to steal from inmates. She has been charged with being a party to a crime and obstructing or hindering law enforcement officers.

Correctional Officer Sean Hollinshead, according to Allen, was taken into custody in May for his alleged role in a “vicious attack” on an inmate and charged with criminal negligence and violation of his oath of office.

Also in May, Officer Tabitha Clifton and nurse Jessica Castellanos were arrested after they were accused of giving inmates prohibited items, the sheriff said.

In Sunday’s arrest, no details were released on what Lowery was attempting to smuggle into inmates. She was charged with violating the public oath of office, giving inmates gun, drugs or alcohol, criminal attempt, and crossing a guard line with guns, drugs or alcohol, jail records show. Lowery was being held without bond Monday.