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Do you have the right to cigarettes in Jail?
February 6, 2003 12:36 PM   Subscribe

Hard time gets harder. New York City has banned smoking in all workplaces, and apparently that includes jails. Do you have the right to smoke in jail? A prison full of convicts all having nicotine withdrawl at the same time can't be a good thing.
posted by quibx (25 comments total)

 
...and apparently that includes jails.

They can't keep illegal drugs out of prisons, let alone cigarettes...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:41 PM on February 6, 2003


A prison full of people dying from cancer and other smoking related problems doesn't seem like a good thing for my taxes, either.

If you want to keep smoking, perhaps doing something to be put in prison for wasn't a very bright idea in the first place.
posted by shepd at 12:42 PM on February 6, 2003


It's still unclear to me whether cigarettes were made available to the prisoners by legal means before. If so, then I don't see any problem with letting them smoke outside or whatever. Or maybe they could've had smoking wings and non-smoking wings. Whichever, I do hope (as a smoker) that they do help the convicts that are addicted deal with this well (which should include lots of peanuts and pretzels, as well as things to do with fidgety hands).
posted by Ufez Jones at 12:48 PM on February 6, 2003


Is is true, or just a Hollywood fabrication that cigarettes act as currency in prison? If true, there may be more turmoil as a result of economic upheaval than from nicotine withdrawl.
posted by machaus at 12:52 PM on February 6, 2003


Spare a thought for the wardens and guards who also won't be able to light up...
posted by PenDevil at 12:56 PM on February 6, 2003


Isn't the point of prison to make the experience as miserable as possible? Since, I suspect, felons probably smoke at a rate 2x that of the general population, this means No Smoking, with guards being able to smoke. Deprivation + a tease.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:03 PM on February 6, 2003


So, they're be an illegal market in nicotine patches...
posted by ParisParamus at 1:04 PM on February 6, 2003


Wardens and guards can leave the jail during their breaks, though.

The prisoners can't (or so one would hope).

If you're smoking on company time, shame on you.
posted by shepd at 1:04 PM on February 6, 2003


Isn't the point of prison to make the experience as miserable as possible?

Uh, no. It's also to rehabilitate people so that they may re-enter society.
posted by machaus at 1:05 PM on February 6, 2003


i wouldn't worry too much about prisoners' withdrawal from nicotene. There's a plentiful supply of hard drugs.
posted by condour75 at 1:08 PM on February 6, 2003


zero sympathy. prison is punishment. to that end, prisoners should be given sandpaper in place of toilet paper, too.

and forks with bent tines, and knives that don't cut anything.
posted by crunchland at 1:11 PM on February 6, 2003


It's also to rehabilitate people so that they may re-enter society.

Since smoking is, by all objective measures, detrimental to the individual and society, consider a ban an extra dimension of the rehabilitation.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:15 PM on February 6, 2003


I am actually going to have to (for once) side with the smokers on this one. Let 'em smoke, for chrissakes.
posted by adampsyche at 1:33 PM on February 6, 2003


As someone who has gone through the quitting experience several times, this seems like a pretty fair thing. Prison. Suck it up.

That being said, you couldn't pay me enough to work in that place when the ban goes into effect. Massive nic fit riot sounds like a pretty ugly scene.
posted by majcher at 2:33 PM on February 6, 2003


You have to realize that not everyone in prison has actually done anything wrong. Convicts are people who did something the legislature declared illegal, not people who did something wrong. A few examples: marijuana possession, draft evasion, unlicensed boxing. To say that everyone in prison deserves harsh punishment is like saying everyone in high school does, because there is just as pressing a need to teach high school students the difference between right and wrong.

That said, I happen to agree that a ban on smoking is good for inmates. One should not need anything in prison. An active addiction can only lead to problems when stuck behind prison walls. It makes just as much sense as a ban on gambling. Remove anything that may cause friction among the captive population.
posted by son_of_minya at 3:39 PM on February 6, 2003


The first time my cousin got tossed in the can he came out a brawny, decaffeinated, non-smoking vegetarian. After all, he had plenty of time, got lots of sleep and rest, had plenty of reading material and got a fanatical amount of exercize to beat the boredom.

He's due out this second time in a few months. He has gained about fifty pounds of pure muscle and almost has his degree. I don't think he'll end up back inside.

Prison doesn't seem like that bad of a place to quit smoking, although it might be rough to do while coping with the stress of your first month there.
posted by Shane at 4:13 PM on February 6, 2003


Prison doesn't seem like that bad of a place to quit smoking, although it might be rough to do while coping with the stress of your first month there.

If you don't mind the lack of heterosexual sex...
posted by titboy at 4:44 PM on February 6, 2003


I was about to say....are we also going to take away thier girlie mags or porno....oh man...If thats the case I am with majcher!
posted by SweetIceT at 5:33 PM on February 6, 2003


Wow, I can't believe so many people are eager to fuck over prisoners more than they're fucked already--not w/r/t the smoking issue, but the other ideas flying around. You guys don't think prison is tough enough as it is? I'm with son_of_minya here...we're all susceptible to screwing up, and who here hasn't broken the law? Most people in prison aren't there for violent reasons, so it's pretty rough to wish on them a harder life based on your revenge fantasies. The same attitude has kept prison rape a running joke in our society, despite the fact that it is a horrific crime and, with HIV, a likely death sentence.

I mean, maybe you are perfect and there's no chance you'll do something illegal and get caught, but if a brother or friend screws up and goes to jail, to what extent would you support his being raped and leaving prison with AIDS?

As for the smoking, my concern wouldn't be denying prisoners the right to smoke, but more the practical results of that in the prison population. My understanding of prison life is that the control of a large number of prisoners by relatively few guards requires a fine balance that prevents outbreaks of violence. I'm guessing the guards themselves, as the front line of danger, wouldn't appreciate the level of tension that would likely result from the removal of cigarettes as a form of currency and/or addiction.
posted by troybob at 6:11 PM on February 6, 2003


Convicts are people who did something the legislature declared illegal, not people who did something wrong. A few examples: marijuana possession, draft evasion, unlicensed boxing.

This is a joke, right?

Doing something the legislature declared illegal is wrong. You may not agree with it being wrong, but breaking laws is wrong. Those who break the laws should suffer the penalties (jail, probation, fines, community service, a warning, whatever). Feel free to lobby, start a movement to have certain laws changed, or buy some island and start your own country, but if it's law at the time that you break it, you've done something wrong.
posted by fried at 8:37 PM on February 6, 2003


I would love to agree with that statement, fried, and in most cases I do, but government can't dictate morals.

Rosa Parks was wrong to sit in the wrong bus seat?
Ali was wrong to protect his individual beliefs by refusing to fight in Vietnam?
The founding fathers were wrong to oppose British rule?

On the other side of the coin,

Was it right to persecute the Jews just because the government allowed it?
Was it right to own slaves because it was legal?

Laws and government are mutually exclusive.
posted by ttrendel at 10:10 PM on February 6, 2003


Go to jail, lose ALL of your rights. Don't go to jail, don't lose your rights.
posted by presto at 4:57 AM on February 7, 2003


Go to jail, lose ALL of your rights. Don't go to jail, don't lose your rights.

Unless you live in Boston, New York City, California, etc.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:46 AM on February 7, 2003


It has never been assumed that when you go to jail in the US you lose all your rights. You do lose many, but there is a minimum set of rights that dictate one's treatment as a human being; for instance, prisoners can't be subject to torture or denied the basic necessities of life.

Most of the people in jail will eventually get out. If we want to create monsters in prison, we'll have them to deal with later on.
posted by troybob at 7:06 AM on February 7, 2003


I don't think the government can calculate morality per se, but the fact of the matter is that if you do something illegal you should expect to go to jail. Even if you consider it morally right.

Another point... most people don't understand that the physical confinements alone are a pretty major punishment, the woman I talked to was incredibly jealous just of my ability to drive to the other side of town and hang out with my friends.
posted by dagnyscott at 11:22 AM on February 7, 2003


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