NEWS _Tobacco isn’t allowed in Washington’s prisons, but that hasn’t stopped some inmates from lighting up.
Smoking has gone underground since a 2004 statewide ban, making cigarettes and tobacco products a popular and lucrative form of contraband – and a headache for prison administrators.
Systemwide statistics weren’t available from the Department of Corrections, but cigarettes, loose tobacco, rolling papers and fire sources were some of the most frequently seized items at one South Sound prison in 2007, a News Tribune review of records found.
Tobacco products were found and seized at least 127 times at McNeil Island Corrections Center last year. That averages out to roughly one in every 10 inmates at the 1,300-man facility being caught with tobacco.
It’s definitely the inmates’ “drug of choice,” said McNeil Island prison superintendent Ron Van Boening. “There are more smokers than users of other kinds of drugs,” he said.
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