Some Tri-State inmates will be able to smoke again, but not with regular cigarettes.
Officials at two jails are selling inmates vapor cigarettes through the commissary, and others may soon follow suit.
Inmates in Union County, Kentucky and White County, Illinois will be able to purchase and use the vapor cigarettes. They're not the refillable type you might see around town.
It's equivalent to two and a half packs of cigarettes, and when they're done, you just throw it away. But local jails aren't trying out the E-cigarettes to appease inmates, it's for added revenue.
35 inmates in the White County Jail are now puffing on E-cigs. The sheriff made the product available Monday during what he calls a trial period.
"We've had a constant problem with inmates trying to smuggle in contraband. Through the mail, through all kinds of area sources trying to smuggle tobacco products in here. We feel this program may alleviate some of the issues we have to deal with there," White County Sheriff Doug Maier said.
But it's not just to appease the inmates, the commissary sales are an added revenue stream for the jail.
"Second reason is just obvious is revenue. The taxpayers have to support this facility. We look at anything we feel might ease that burden and we think we can make some money selling these," Sheriff Maier said.
Taxpayers say they have mixed feelings about it.
"I think they should be denied that privilege," said John Webb, who is against the vapor cigarettes.
"They're still human beings. I don't think people are going to get shanked for electric cigarettes most likely. It's just another add on to having it, so I don't really see the argument against it," Peter Rees said.
But the sheriff says it's not about making life any cushier inside the cells.
"We're certainly not doing it to make life easier for the inmates here. They're incarcerated and I've always in the past felt like it's a good time to quit smoking, but we feel the benefits of this program might be beneficial for us and we feel were going to give it a try and se," Sheriff Maier told 14 News.
Counties like Vanderburgh, Henderson, and Wayne are considering selling the E-cigs. 14 News spoke with several of the jailers who say they are waiting to see how it works in other jails.
Counties like Warrick, Hopkins, and Muhlenberg have already decided against it.
Copyright 2013 WFIE. All rights reserved.
1115 Mt. Auburn Road
Public File Contact: