Unicoi sheriff decides against E-cigarettes - WRBL

Unicoi sheriff decides against E-cigarettes

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People are sent to jail to do hard time, but in at least two East Tennessee jails inmates are getting their nicotine fix behind bars.

When you are in jail for breaking the law you are being punished by losing your freedom and your ability to purchase luxuries, but we've learned in two jails prisoners can pass the hours with an electronic cigarette.

Right now the only jails that allow the electronic cigarettes are in Johnson and Carter Counties.

Unicoi County was looking into the possibility of it, but said the negatives out way the positives and have decided against them.

Electronic cigarettes, Johnson county inmates have been smoking them for the past two months..

"It's cut down on our contraband coming into our jails as far as tobacco," said Sheriff Mike Reece.

One electronic cigarette is equivalent to two and half packs. Reece said E-cigarettes are one of the most popular selling items in the jail.

"It's a bargaining tool with the inmates and it keeps them calm," said Reece, and the inmates know it.

"Doesn't work they're out of here," said Reece. "That's what we explained to the inmates that if this doesn't work, they abuse it, we'll stop it."

The county jail buys the E-cigarettes at $5 a piece, then turns around and sells them for $10. On average they are selling as many as 100 a week, giving the county an extra $1,000.

"Way we purchase a lot of our equipment. We don't go to county commission and ask the tax payers to pay for a lot of this stuff we buy and that's good for us," said Reece.

Now, Reece is recommending it to other counties. He said agencies, "should at least give it a try. Like I said it's good revenue for them and helps buy things in their department to take off the tax payers. That's a way the inmates are kind of paying their way too."

Despite an a possible revenue, Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley told News Channel 11 that after research he decided against giving his inmates the option of E-cigarettes not knowing whether they are safe or not.

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