Thursday, November 30, 2023

Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail nurse accused of bringing contraband, but officials mum about details

Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail officials are releasing very little information about a jail nurse accused of bringing in contraband for an inmate.

Officials identified the nurse as Courtney Shafer.

She is charged Tuesday with three counts of misdemeanor delivery of articles to committed persons – the charge is punishable by up to a year in jail and/or up to a $2,500 fine.

A news release from Sara Mahayni, the jail’s spokeswoman, was vague and did not specify what kind of contraband Shafer is accused of bringing in the facility, when the investigation started, and how did the allegation reach the jail administration.

Officials would only say in the news release that “the investigation found that Shafer had been providing contraband to at least one inmate incarcerated at VPRJ.”

And “Shafer was relieved of all duties and is no longer an employee at VPRJ.”

The news release noted at the end that the investigation remains open and “no additional comments will be made at this time.”

Mahayni emailed the news release at 4:25 p.m. Wednesday. WYDaily called her at 4:34 p.m. and was told Mahayni has left for the day and “she’s the only one you’d be able to talk to.”

Mahayni did not immediately respond to our email.

WYDaily tried to reach Col. Roy Witham, the jail’s superintendent, but again was told Mahayni was the only one who could answer questions.

“To discover that an employee was involved in the kind of behavior that Shafer was engaged in is always an extreme disappointment, not just for myself, but for all of her now former co-workers,” Witham said in the news release. “I want to be clear: The conduct exhibited by Shafer put the safety and security of employees and inmates alike at risk. When any employee, be they an officer, a nurse, or a civilian, makes the decision to knowingly break state law and disregard VPRJ policies and procedures in order to assist an inmate in the manner Shafer did, they are willingly putting the lives of staff and inmates in danger.”

John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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