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Report: Florida Prisons Either Need To Fully Ban Tobacco Or Allow Everyone To Have It

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Should Florida’s prisons fully ban the use of tobacco products? A recent study recommends that change as one solution to the Florida Department of Corrections’ contraband problem.

Currently, Florida’s correctional employees can have tobacco products, while most inmates can’t. A report by CGL, an independent consulting firm, advises the prison agency either do away with the policy or allow everyone to have it. Brad Sassatelli with CGL says not only is the current policy unusual for correctional institutions across the country, it’s leading to a huge problem within Florida’s prison system.

“…because tobacco then becomes contraband, and we’ve had reports that a cigarette would sell for $10,” said Sassatelli. “So, it creates an incentive for staff to sell tobacco and contraband to inmates. Our recommendation is the department decide one way or the other: either allow tobacco in the facilities or don’t allow it. But, having this bifurcated policy creates significant security issues and contraband issues.”

The state paid $300,000 for the comprehensive study of the Florida Department of Corrections’ operations. Sassatelli’s firm presented those findings to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee Monday. Lawmakers on that panel are tasked with reforming Florida’s troubled prison system.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.