Life in jail is tough. And it's getting tougher because of "extortion and threats" over items like cigarettes, pencils, even bread smuggled into cellblocks.
A House committee Thursday approved a bill that says everything in the world is to be considered contraband in jails unless specifically allowed by jail authorities.Paul Boyden of the Utah Association of Prosecutors says jail managers are having real problems controlling what "short-time" inmates are smuggling into institutions. It's already illegal to smuggle in drugs, weapons and the like.
But in the now-smoke-free jails, cigarettes are hot items. Some habitual, petty criminals are coming into jail with cigarettes and other popular items "hidden in body cavities," says Boyden. Once inside a cell, they remove the goods, sell them or, in turn, are extorted and threatened.
Because the short-timers soon get out of jail - and fail to show up for prosecutions for minor violations of contraband - it's more efficient to proclaim everything a person may bring into a cell as contraband unless jail operators say it's OK to bring those items in. That way, says Boyden, jail administrators have greater control over inmates' actions. The bill, HB52, now goes to the House floor.