Justice and Public Safety Cabinet
More and More Jails Going Smoke-Free
Frankfort, KY – It appears the air’s getting a little fresher for Kentucky’s inmate population.
At least 23% of the full-service jails surveyed by the Kentucky Department of Corrections’ Division of Local Facilities report they are now completely smoke-free. And several others only allow it in a certain section of the facility.
“I applaud these jailers for making their jails non-smoking and taking this bold move,” said Corrections Commissioner John D. Rees. “Not only are they giving their staff and the inmates a healthier environment, they will see a significant reduction in their maintenance and sanitation costs.”
Rees noted that the largest state prison, the Kentucky State Reformatory in LaGrange, is going smoke-free in the spring of 2006 and is currently providing a smoking cessation program to both staff and inmates.
Fifty-five of the 75 full-service jails responded to the survey: 30 report they allow smoking, 17 are smoke-free and eight only allow it in the secure section of the jail.
American Jail Association Executive Director Stephen Ingley noted recently in a National Association of Counties publication that the trend of smokeless jails boomed about three years ago, although “it’s definitely more and more popular every day.”
“It’s no longer uncommon to find a smoke-free jail” said Ingley. “In fact, it’s very common to find that.”
Warden Larry Chandler, in distributing information to his inmate population and his more than 500 employees, cites six main reasons KSR was chosen as the pilot project for the state:
• Medical issues: This was a policy decision – As the designated medical institution for the Department of Corrections, we can’t “with good conscience,” continue to allow inmates to aggravate their health problems with tobacco products and second hand smoke.
• Safety issues: Fires, in dormitories, directly attributable to cigarette smoking in a prohibited area.
• Disciplinary issues: Although KSR’s been smoke-free (no smoking in buildings) for some time, it’s hard to enforce.
• Maintenance issues: Nicotine, tar and smoke in general create havoc upon the HVAC systems. Tobacco smoke does the same thing to the mechanical systems as it does to a human lung.
• Sanitation issues: The stains and residue of the by-products of tobacco have taken their toll over the years. The yard is constantly littered with cigarette butts and matches make the facility look continually littered.
• Economic reasons: Tobacco prices have soared making a carton of even generic cigarettes cost more than a months pay for some inmates and a tank of gas for staff.
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