An interesting new development is taking place in jails across the country. Amid a crack down on e-cigarettes in public places, some local governments are handing them out to inmates in jails to help them remain calm while incarcerated. Local jails are claiming that giving inmates e-cigs is an easy way to maintain peace with smokers who can no longer smoke traditional cigarettes while in jail.
Most jails ban cigarettes over fear from second-hand-smoke. However, e-cigs have a metal body which also makes them hazardous to jail workers. Interestingly, some e-cig manufacturers are now making “jail-safe” e-cigs to negate this problem. Built from plastic, these new units solve two problems 1) safety concerns from inmates and 2) health concerns from second-hand smoke.
High Markups on Jail e-Cigs
Apparently, prisons are reporting that “jail-safe” e-cigs are reducing the violence between inmates. But this is not the only reason that jails have approved of plastic e-cigs. In fact, it is the prison that benefits the most from these devices! One jail buys 500 puff e-cigs just $2.75 each, they then sell the e-cig to inmates for $10. They say that this price increase is meant to go to such things as repairs to the prison and to increasing their guards pay, but many other prisons aren’t exactly clear about where their profits are going.
One such example of prison-friendly e-cigs can be seen in Gage County in southeastern Nebraska. The sheriff Millard Gustafson stated that in just under 2 months the prison sold out of 200 e-cigs that they had purchased for inmates. There are only 32 prisoners in the jail. He went on to say that he also uses the e-cigs as a way to control the behavior of the inmates and will be taking them away if they fail to comply with jail standards, much in the same way he handles television viewing.
Good Profits for Prisons
According to e-cig manufactures, a jail or prison with as few as 90 inmates can enjoy a $5,760 profit every single month. For small county jails or prisons, this is serious money. It can be used to pay a good portion of their staff salary as well as be used to enhance the facility. In fact, e-cig companies are now marketing their products directly to jailers since the demand there is so high.
In other states such as North Carolina, the debate on whether e-cigs should be legal or not is dramatically affecting the residents and jails located within the state’s borders. In 2010, the state banned smoking in prisons and jails. However, a bill that was recently passed by the state legislature will be transforming that situation. Now, the prison commissary will be legally allowed to sell plastic e-cigs to their inmates.
While some contend this is little more than a money making scheme, the jail wardens are claiming that most of the profits go back into inmate welfare programs for those who don’t have enough money to buy the things they need while in jail. Either way, the e-cig industry is benefiting greatly from this new found market place.
Bradly County Jail to Start Selling e-Cigarettes
The Bradly County jail is starting to sell e-cigarettes to inmates at the jail commissary. The county commission took a vote and passed 11-2 to use vaporizers in county buildings to sell e-cigarettes. This will not only bring some revenue in but it will help quit the nasty tobacco habit. According to the Sheriffs office of Bradley County, the county prison can potentially make $96,000 to $120,000 a year off the sales of e-cigarettes.
Since smoking tobacco is not allowed, when inmates come to prison they get nicotine withdrawal symptoms. This can cause aggravation which leads to more fights but with e-cigarettes they can feed their cravings. The sales of the e-cigarettes will be used to buy safety and medical equipment.