E-cigs giving assist in jails
Lawrence County Sheriff Gene Mitchell said cigarettes always have been smuggled to inmates in jail.
He’s hoping that will change, now that the jail has started allowing inmates to purchase
non-tobacco cigarettes through a vendor.
“We’ve been allowing the inmates to purchase the (electronic cigarettes) for 2-3 months, and it is working well,” Mitchell said. “We can already tell a difference in the inmates’ attitudes.”
Franklin and Lauderdale counties also have started selling the non-tobacco e-cigarettes to inmates.
Colbert County Sheriff Ronnie May said smoking of any kind is prohibited in the Colbert County Jail.
Jackie Keenum, administer at the Lauderdale County Detention Center, said the e-cigarettes look like real cigarettes, but are battery operated, with a small, flat battery.
She said there is no smoke, no smell.
“It has nicotine, but no tar,” Keenum said. “A lot of people use them to stop smoking.”
She said one cigarette is supposed to have the equivalent of 21/2 packs of cigarettes.
This is the second week the Lauderdale County Detention Center has been selling the e-cigarettes.
Swanson Inmate Commissary Service operates the commissary at the detention center and sells the non-tobacco cigarettes in the commissary.
“Last week, when I went back into the jail to pass out the cigarettes is the first time in a long time, the inmates were glad to see me coming back there,” Keenum said. “In two weeks, we have sold 122 of the e-cigarettes.”
Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver said he has been pleased with how the electronic cigarettes have done at his jail.
“So far, so good. We have not had any problems,” he said. “It really seems to be working well.”
At Franklin County, the inmates buy the non-tobacco cigarettes from the inmate commissary.
“We have already noticed a lot less contraband trying to be smuggled into the jail to the inmates,” Oliver said. “I think this is going to be something very beneficial to jail personnel.”
The Wayne County Sheriff’s Department has been allowing the non-tobacco cigarettes in the jail since October.
Wayne County Jail Administrator, Capt. Darryl Crews, said jailers said they have seen a positive difference.
“It has cut down on contraband, and from what the jailers said, the attitudes of the inmates have been a lot better since we started allowing the (e-cigarettes),” Crews said.
Prior to the non-tobacco cigarettes, prisoners were not allowed to have any tobacco of any kind in the cells or out in the exercise yard in any of the area jails or detention centers.
Keenum said inmates were always trying to figure out a way to get cigarettes into the jail.
She said some inmates addicted to smoking have gone as far as picking up used cigarettes butts out of ashtrays outside the courthouse when they are taken to court.
Keenum said allowing the inmates to have the non-tobacco cigarettes seems to have cut down on the “tension” between inmates.
“This is only our second week, so far it seems to be working well. We’re pleased,” Keenum said. “We hope it continues to go well.”