$600 voor een pakje sigaretten

Sinds in gevangenissen in Canada en de VS sigaretten verboden zijn, is er een levendige smokkel op gang gekomen waarbij de prijzen gigantisch gestegen zijn tot $600 per pakje sigaretten. De prijs voor sigaretten is daardoor binnen de instituten hoger geworden dan voor een joint.

Aangezien ook aanstekers verboden zijn, ontstaan er levensgevaarlijke situaties wanneer gevangenen paperclips en andere metalen voorwerpen in de stopcontacten steken om vonken te kunnen veroorzaken voor het aansteken van hun sigaret…..

The value of contraband tobacco and cigarettes inside provincial jails and remand centres has skyrocketed to as much as $600 a pack since smoking was banned in the institutions about two months ago. “The experience has shown in other jurisdictions basically the same things that we’re starting to hear here in terms of a black market being created for cigarettes and prices going up,” said Brad Odsen of the John Howard Society of Alberta.

“We know they went up tenfold and more in other jurisdictions and there’s no reason to believe that wouldn’t be the case here.”

Guards’ union rep Mike Rennich said a pack of cigarettes was already worth about $60 in the underground barter system at Edmonton’s remand centre and provincial jail before the ban took effect.

If the price rose in keeping with jails in other provinces, that’s $600 for a pack of smokes that would cost about $11 on the outside.

“I can believe that,” Rennich said, adding a cigarette is now worth more than a marijuana joint to some inmates.

Guards are still finding cigarettes and they’ve noticed some of the men are improvising by smoking dried tea leaves, he said. Wires and paper clips are inserted into electrical outlets to get a spark, since lighters are banned.

While they aren’t traded for big wads of cash, a “deck” of factory-made smokes or a pouch of loose tobacco is the most valuable form of currency behind the walls these days, Rennich said.

“They’re used for payment on debts. They have poker games, so if a guy loses $2,000 and he’s got 10 packs of smokes, he can probably write off the $2,000 by giving them up.”

Along with any barter system “you’ve got a whole other realm of suppliers and consumers and debt and debt collection,” Odsen said. “There are going to be some fairly serious concerns arising out of this.”

One of those concerns is inmate safety, Rennich said.

“Anybody that has tobacco, you’d better be capable of keeping it. It’s a violent place and the big dog rules. If he don’t get them, he’ll take them from you.”

The good news is that violence has not increased substantially in the two months since the ban took effect, Rennich said.

“It’s been really successful, and I give credit to the (Solicitor General’s) department for implementing it over a six-month period and getting everyone prepared.”

The Correctional Service of Canada is also considering a smoking ban in federal pens.

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