Death Row

deathrow1280I’m fifty-five years old, and now I’m sitting here on a toilet smoking like a kid in high school. I’m on death row. Are they pissed off that I might take the joy of killing me away from them? This privacy barrier in my cell only shields a little strip of vision. The smoke can be seen coming out the top, or if I bend over, it comes out the bottom. If I get caught smoking or in possession of tobacco, I get extra work duty or loss of privileges. The third strike gets me extra jail time. Does that mean they will stay my execution, so that I can pay my debt to society for doing something that is legal everywhere else in the world? You have to wonder what kind of genius dreamt this one up. Are things getting too boring at the local policy meetings.

The immediate repercussions to the ban, will be like when they did it in Oregon in 1995 and the inmates set fire to the prison. In every other case where they banned smoking in prisons, two things always happen. One is that violence increases and there is a new black market that springs up, more widespread than anything else in prison. You used to be able to buy a tin of bugler tobacco to roll your own, for eleven bucks. Now that same tin costs over two hundred. Cigarettes are the new currency in the joint. I know a guy who killed somebody for a pack of Marlboro. What goes for three to four dollars on the outside, is all it cost to take a man’s life. I heard tell of a guard who got shanked in exchange for a carton, but I can’t say for sure it is true.

The other side of the coin, these smart administrators ain’t thinking about is how they are making their own staff into criminals. I read somewhere that about half of all prisoners smoke. In the same article it said about half of the screws smoke too. For you who don’t what screws is, that means the guards. So if they aren’t getting in trouble and fired for sneaking a smoke somewhere, they are becoming dealers and black market suppliers inside. It is just too tempting for them to pass up thousand a week for ten cartons. It more than doubles their salary, and it isn’t like they have to deal with criminals and junkies like us to get it on the outside. They are going to get busted for possession of cigarettes man. As long as they are cool about how they get it in, they get off scott free. Ain’t nobody gonna rat them out, and bite the hand that feeds them.

The best one I heard was about a Prison in Marion, Ohio where they took away cigarettes from death row inmates but started giving them more benefits. They can spend more money in the commissary every month, and they get served in small groups outside their cells like a picnic. But the best of all is they get five hours of recreation outside of their cell instead of one. Throw in some dancing girls and conjugal visits with them afterwards, and I might go along with it. I’m sure John Q. Public is gonna love hearing that the guy who raped and killed their mother and sister are getting all sorts of extra perks for not smoking.

The real kicker is that all of these bans on smoking are starting to show a flaw in one of their main rallying cries. The second hand smoke is killing all these other people who don’t smoke, and that is why smoking must be banned. As the number of people smoking and being around smokers is going down, you would think the number of cases of cancer should be going down. Well, kiddo that ain’t the case.