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HILL COUNTY

Local jail selling e-cigarettes to inmates

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HILL COUNTY -

The Hill County jail is selling electronic cigarettes to inmates to ease the moods of inmates and make a little money.

Hill County Sheriff Michael Cox stopped the practice of allowing trustee inmates to smoke outside if families bring in cigarettes. Now, he's approved a new practice of selling electronic cigarettes to trustee inmates.

These are people who are in jail for a brief time for misdemeanor crimes.The e-cigarettes are sold at the commissary and are only allowed outside. They're also jail safe e-cigarettes made for inmates. To learn more about a kind of e-cigarette click here.

"They're clear inside so you're not able to get contraband or anything inside so that helps as it has less than 12 g of nicotine inside," Cox said. 

The Hill County jail isn't the only facility in the nation that's selling e-cigarettes. News stories in Tennessee and New York also show county jails selling e-cigarettes. Cox says there's also an added benefit of safety. Captain Leroy Rodriguez says he noticed a difference when trustees were no longer allowed to smoke outside. He says he noticed a difference when they were first allowed to buy e-cigarettes. 

"Relaxes them from the stress level that they're dealing with being locked up and stuff," Rodriguez said. 

"Inmates are inmates they're going to complain about everything and it just will assist us in having that comfort level for the stress level to drop for the officers."

Cox says the cigarettes cost around $15 per stick. They each have the inmate's name on them and are distributed by jailers when inmates go outside. He also says the money goes towards the commissary which are legally required to go back to benefit the inmates. However, Cox says that means they may not have to use tax dollars to pay for things like inmate uniforms. 

Cox says they're doing some more research and may allow e-cigarettes to be sold to the entire population in the future. 

Bell and McLennan County jails do not sell e-cigarettes. McLennan County officials say it's not an option at this time.
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