Parks And Enforced Recreation

Posted 5th May 2015 by Dave Cross
America is still struggling to come up with a joined up approach to vaping but appears consistent in its entrepreneurial spirit. On one hand more locations are banning the use of electronic cigarettes from public areas, with punishments ranging from expulsion to fines. Meanwhile, lucky incarcerated felons can vape freely, for a price. And the sale of prison ecigs has resulted in a drama of their own.

AT&T Park is the home to the San Francisco Giants baseball team, a stadium widely reputed to be one of the best in the country. It is the biggest example of the latest ban being rolled in the state of California. The ban will encapsulate ecigs along with smokeless and chewing tobacco because they, as San Fran politician Mark Farrell says, “have negative health effects and have no place in sporting events heavily attended by impressionable youth.”

Although vaping would constitute a petty offense it is still theoretically possible for vapers to end up falling under the Three Strike laws, statutes aimed at imposing harsh sentences on habitual offenders. The ‘three strikes’ name derives, appropriately in this case, from baseball and could lead to prison time for those with a prior record.

Over seven states currently allow the sale and use of electronic cigarettes in jails. Inmates can purchase them from the commissary and they have proved to be hugely popular since their introduction. The popularity isn’t confined to the prisoners, sheriffs running the jails love them too although not quite for the same reason. Supplying companies might claim there are other benefits to selling their product in facilities but the prime motivator for the sheriffs is money.

Cross Bar Ecigs advertise that their cigalikes boost inmate moral, reduce contraband and “increase revenue”, to the tune of $7,000 a month for a small facility. Jailcigs points out their products contain no tobacco products and should therefore not be included in a tobacco ban. Ecigsforinmates just rely on one point: a “Ninety head count facility on average brings in $5760 profit each month.” Precisionvapour advertise that jails can “earn $9 per inmate per day.”

This is possible as the individually sealed devices sell for up to $15 a piece, running a 400% mark up, and netting up to 25% commissions to the sheriffs.


The income from ecig sales is supposed to go into a fund to be used to improvements to the jail – but with the chance to profit comes the opportunity for things to go awry.

Say hello to Sheriff Robert Arnold. Arnold has been placed on leave pending an investigation. Arnold has a chequered history and oversaw the awarding of an exclusive rights contract to Jailcigs. Following difficulties in locating the generated revenue from ecig sales, journalists revealed documents linking Arnold to Jailcigs. It transpired that the owners of the company, John and Judy Vanderveer, were the sheriff’s uncle and aunt. Further documents demonstrated Arnold was also a shareholder in Jailcigs.

In addition to Arnold, Chief Deputy Joe Russell and Detective Maj. Bill Sharp have also been suspended until the ethics committee meets to look at the evidence against them.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, motorbikes, and dog walker