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Eastern Indiana sheriff considers e-cigarettes for inmates

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) – An eastern Indiana sheriff is considering allowing inmates to use electronic cigarettes as an incentive to help with prisoner behavior issues.

“We would use it as a tool,” Delaware County Sheriff Ray Dudley told The (Muncie) Star Press. “It would help with anger issues.”

Smoking is outlawed in most public buildings in Delaware County and the ban includes jail inmates. But other Indiana county jails allow inmates to use e-cigarettes, and Dudley said he has brought up the idea with Delaware County commissioners.

Dudley said that of his approximately 270 inmates, conservatively about 80 percent smoke. The e-cigarettes would be sold at the jail commissary for $10 to $15 apiece, with Dudley saying the e-cigarettes are “equivalent to two packs of cigarettes.” Staff could use them as an incentive for inmates to behave and be moved into “model inmate” cellblocks, Dudley said.

“This could really curb anger issues,” Dudley said. “If inmates do good, they’ll get in a better cellblock.”

The move won’t happen immediately. Dudley said he’d like to get the jail population down to 200 first and that could take three to six months.

Dudley said took one of the e-cigarettes apart and determined there was nothing that would harm an inmate or guard. He also spoke with the county health department, which told him it recommends the jail be kept smoke-free, including e-cigarettes, but Dudley said he determined the cigarettes wouldn’t have an adverse effect on air quality.