Tobacco use in prison settings: A need for policy implementation

Heino Stöver15th August 2018


Lawrence B Iken, 23rd Jan 2019 at 07:57

As someone who has survived the BOP system, I can confirm the tremendous amount of smoking that occurs in prison and the half way house that I stayed in for over 6 weeks.

Despite the ban on smoking in both places, the CO’s on duty always turned a blind eye to what was going on. In fact, on many occasions, I saw CO’s either hand out cigarettes to an inmate or vice versa. The amount of smoking affected me so badly, as I am also asthmatic, caused many days and nights of labored breathing. When I checked into my half way house, Dismas House in St. Louis, Mo., the first night i was forced to sleep in the “first night” room, that upon opening the door to, released such a large amount of smoke that I was forced back out of the room. When I reported this to the CO’s on duty, they laughed it off and called me nasty names and did nothing, although I found out later that there were other rooms I could have slept in.

While in prison at Leavenworth, one of the CO’s (Mac) came up to my dorm area where several of my fellow inmates were playing cards and relaxing. He sat down and asked us who among us was the most trusted man in the room, we all said Mr. H. Mac continued to tell us all and I quote, “I don’t care if you bastards run around naked, poop on the floors and fuck each other, but if i come back up here and smell any more smoke in this dorm or in the back stairway, I will come back with all my friends (CO’s) and turn over this dorm looking for any contraband items, so I can throw someone in the “hole” (solitary confinement).”

When we reported to the rest of our dorm mates what Mac had told us, the “musclemen” of our dorm (who don’t smoke) threatened all of the smokers that if they don’t stop smoking in the dorm, they would personally stick objects where they normally aren’t supposed to go.

I am happy to discuss any of my statements with anyone else.

Lawrence Iken, 25th Jan 2019 at 23:02

As someone who has been a prisoner with the BOP, I can confirm most of your observations concerning smoking and the effects of second hand smoke to their fellow inmates. During my time, both the CO’s and inmates borrowed or sold cigarettes to each other on a regular basis with no punishment handed out, despite the rules against smoking. It got so bad that a CO came to my dorm to ream us out about the amount of smoke, smelling of smoke both in the air and on the clothing of most of the inmates and in the stairway, that he threatened us with a raid on our dormitory as punishment.

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