Weed-stuffed highlighters found on nurse working at prison in Columbia, officials say

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A Midlands woman who worked as a nurse at a prison in Columbia was arrested and fired after she was found with highlighters filled with marijuana and other contraband, the South Carolina Department of Corrections said Monday.

Kristen Hair Hildebrand was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and furnishing contraband to a prisoner, prison officials said in a news release.

The 35-year-old St. Matthews resident was a licensed practical nurse at Broad River Correctional Institution, according to the release.

On Saturday, Hildebrand entered the prison with 195 grams of a substance — that field tested positive for marijuana — stuffed into 13 highlighter pens, arrest warrants show. Brown rolling papers were also discovered inside three other highlighters, according to arrest warrants.

She was smuggling the drugs and rolling papers among her personal possessions with the intent of introducing them into the prison, arrest warrants said.

Hildebrand was fired after her arrest, prison officials said.

If convicted on the felony charge of possession with intent to distribute, Hildebrand faces a maximum punishment of 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine, according to South Carolina law. A conviction on the felony count of furnishing contraband to a prisoner could mean a maximum sentence of 10 years behind bars and a $10,000 fine.

The prison where Hildebrand worked is on Broad River Road, near the junction with Interstate 20. It is a Level 3 male-only high-security facility “designed primarily to house violent offenders with longer sentences, and inmates who exhibit behavioral problems,” according to the Department of Corrections. It currently houses 1,227 inmates, according to the Department of Corrections.

This isn’t the first time drugs and contraband were found at Broad River Correctional, in spite of elaborate attempts to hide the prohibited items.

In March, Pop-Tart boxes filled with prescription medication, bags of homemade wine, and a bong made from a chicken bone were among the items found during a search of a dorm at the prison, officials said. Additionally, 34 shanks and 10 cellphones were also recovered during that search by correction officers and members of the Department of Corrections police.

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