Friday 20 September 2013

I predict a riot

I nearly posted this news from Florida earlier in the week, but it seems particularly apt now...

State officials lift tobacco ban in prison work camps

TALLAHASSEE -- Corrections officials quietly reversed a blanket ban on tobacco at prisons this summer and are now allowing inmates at work release centers to have up to 10 packs of cigarettes each.

Department of Corrections officials say they lifted the prohibition on tobacco-related products in the work release programs because they didn’t want prisoners so close to completing their sentences to have to go back behind bars for breaking the rules.

...The switch comes less than two years after DOC made all tobacco-related products off-limits at prisons, work camps and work release centers on Sept. 30, 2011.

“The decision to eliminate smoking and tobacco use was made to reduce the medical cost associated with exposure to tobacco, and eliminate secondhand smoke exposure to non-smokers,” the agency said in April 2011, when the ban was announced. The ban also applied to prison workers, who are not allowed to bring cigarettes into facilities, and to visitors. Death Row prisoners are allowed to buy two packs of smokeless tobacco products per week [harm reduction for the condemned - nice touch! - CJS].

The federal Bureau of Prisons and more than half of the other states also ban tobacco in prisons, but the prohibitions have created a new demand for cigarettes, a valuable commodity behind bars. According to some reports, inmates in New York City jails are paying up to $200 for a pack of smokes.

During a six-month period shortly after the Florida ban went into effect, nearly 30,000 inmates or prison workers were caught with some sort of tobacco contraband, according to DOC’s annual report.

Prohibition doesn't work - even in prison. Nevertheless, it is reported today (as it was in March) that the British government plans to introduce a total smoking ban in prisons in the next two years. At the moment, prisoners can only smoke in their cell - smoking is banned in communal areas - and nonsmokers are not forced to share a cell with smokers.

Prisons were originally exempt from the 2007 Health Act on the basis that they are the homes of inmates. The Prison Service also warned that a ban would lead to more assaults on staff. This sounds entirely reasonable. Too reasonable, indeed, for the unappeasable health lobby. As usual, secondhand smoke is being used as the excuse for more draconian rules, but the fact that smoking will also be banned in outdoor areas and exercise yards - and that smokeless tobacco will also be included - shows that it's not really about passive smoke and it's not really about health. But then, it never is.


Jonathan Bagley said...

I remember it being brought in in the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands. Am I wrong? If not, what happened?

Dick Puddlecote said...

You're right, they just started smoking banana skins, lint and tea leaves instead.

Anonymous said...

Or nicotine patches,

Anonymous said...

Prohibition doesn't work - even in prison.

The "even" is arguable here. I can think of few places where prohibition is less likely to work than that where hardened criminals are brought together under one roof. Say what you like about, say, students, but few of them would have the gumption to bribe an official, or the shamelessness to conceal objects in their backsides.

One might justly think, though, that attention would be better paid to averting rapists than forcing prisoners to quit smoking.

Budvar said...

The thing with the "Islands" prisons is they are full of gas meter thieves and the like, unlike the ones on the mainland where they house armed robbers, murderers, terrorists and other ner'do wells doing a life stretch.

Was listening to that stupid bitch Nina Michkov talking tripe on R2 today spouting anti smoking bollox.

She didn't see much of a threat from prison riots as "They'd get used to it".

She seems to be unaware that hard drugs are also illegal in prison, but they're freely available, as prisoners zonked out their head laid on their bed are not ripping the slates off the roof.

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