Oklahoma, which banned smoking in prisons 6 years ago, now will allow inmates in a dozen state prisons to light up and puff away next month, reports The Oklahoman. Officials had cited smoking-related health care costs as making up nearly half of all hospital expenses in the prison system. Now, they say health care costs aren’t an issue.
Smoking in minimum-security prisons won’t contribute much to costs because minimum-security inmates generally spend less time in custody, says a prison system spokesman. They also tend to have more freedom than inmates in higher-security prisons because of good behavior and less severe sentences. Smoking always has been difficult to control, said the spokesman. Allowing smoking makes one less thing to monitor with budget cuts that have resulted in record-low staffing levels.