E-cigarettes that create a safer corrections environment

CO-designed and inmate-approved, the CrossBar Electronic Cigarette is made to be harder to abuse and easier to monitor

By Ashley Garst
CorrectionsOne Associate Editor

Everyone in corrections wants to increase revenue, cut down on contraband, and keep inmate populations under control.

That’s precisely what the CrossBar Electronic Cigarette proposes to do, and it has the technology to back up those big promises.

The 'Corrections Orange' and clear e-cgiarettes available from CrossBar. (Image Crossbar)
The 'Corrections Orange' and clear e-cgiarettes available from CrossBar. (Image Crossbar)

Fighting tobacco contraband with controlled nicotine
In the fall of 2012, Laurel County Kentucky Jailer Jamie Mosley was looking for ways to increase revenue through the commissary program at his 400-bed jail. Since Kentucky requires all of its correctional facilities to be tobacco-free, Mosley turned to electronic cigarettes.

“We saw electronic cigarettes as a means to address multiple issues,” Mosley said. “Being that we were a ‘tobacco-free facility,’ we constantly battled a huge tobacco contraband issue. We, like every facility, needed the ability to increase revenue, and we felt that e-cigs could also help improve the morale of our inmates, since a very high percentage of our inmates are serious smokers.”

Mosley purchased 1,000 units off of a retail brand of e-cigarette and brought them into the facility — almost immediately, there was a huge shift in morale. The number of fights in the facility went down, and this change was attributed to the inmates having access to nicotine.

Unfortunately, during cell searches a few days later, it was noticed by staff that some of the inmates were using parts of the e-cigarettes to create shanks. The e-cigarettes were immediately pulled from the commissary for the safety of the corrections officers.

Still, Mosley saw great potential for the e-cigarettes in the corrections community. Though others had attempted to adapt e-cigarettes for corrections before, none had been successful. So Mosley began to design a new product, one with inmates and jails specifically in mind.

“I feel that at the end of the day, our biggest asset is the fact that I am a jailer who deals with inmates on a daily basis. I understand what they try to do with the product, and we as a company understand the necessary safety as well as the quality factors that are needed to sell in a corrections environment,” Mosley said.

Making a prison-safe e-cigarette
After many rounds of testing, Mosely and his team came up with a one-piece, soft plastic casing different from many retail-type products. Since the casing is soft and flexible, inmates can’t make it into a shank.

“We spent many weeks searching for the perfect plastic casing to build the units from,” Mosley said. “Over 15 batteries were discarded before we selected what we feel is the safest and most dependable power source.”

What is perhaps most unique to the CrossBar E-Cigarette is its safety mechanism -- if inmates try to take a very prolonged inhalation, the cigarette shuts itself off. Likewise, if they attempt to take several smaller inhalations in a row, the cigarette will shut down. This way, corrections staff can still control just how much nicotine an inmate is consuming.

But Mosley and his team didn’t stop there. They now offer their product in ‘Corrections Orange,’ which sets the e-cigarette apart from a normal-looking cigarette, as well as a totally clear unit that allows staff to see at a glance if the unit has been tampered with.

Focusing and expanding corrections market
So how did they go from one 400-bed facility to having their product used in over 30 states?

“When we started this thing, once we got the prototypes built, we tried them for several months here in my home facility. We saw great success,” Mosley said. “My colleagues asked if we would form a company so they could start purchasing the e-cigarettes for their own facilities. We’ve been in business for about a year.

“Our goal is to become the industry leader for e-cigarettes within corrections. We have customers all over the U.S. The largest commissary companies are distributors for us. I’m very happy that we’ve been able to help jails and jailers across the U.S., to make correctional facilities a safer environment for everyone.”

Mosley has been approached by a number of companies looking to take CrossBar into the retail market, but for now he’s content to focus on the next generation of correctional e-cigarette.

“Lots of inmates are contacting us after being released who want to purchase the product. Eventually, if we found the right opportunity, that is something we would consider. It’s pretty flattering when a product you specifically designed for corrections is being sought after for its quality.

“For now, our focus is to continue building our company by helping other jailers, sheriffs and jail administrators enjoy the benefits that the CrossBar Electronic Cigarette has provided my own facility.”

For more information on the CrossBar Electronic Cigarette, check out their website at www.smokeCrossBar.com.

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