AUBURN, Maine — After discovering that some Androscoggin County Jail inmates were smoking dried banana and orange peels, administrators have ordered kitchen staff to serve inmates the fruit without peels.
Lt. Jeff Chute of the Androscoggin County Jail said Friday morning inmates would find a way to light the peels and inhale the smoke that was burning off them.
“We smelled smoke one day and we went and searched the area,” Chute said. “We started peeling all bananas [and oranges].”
Chute said inmates smoking the peels has been an issue at the jail for “maybe six or eight months.” He added no inmates showed any outward effects from smoking the peels and there is no evidence a high can be derived from it.
Although smoking fruit peels has not been encountered at the Penobscot County Jail, Sheriff Glenn Ross said inmates have found other ways to create smoke while incarcerated.
“One of the things we did was we deactivated all our electrical outlets in the housing areas,” Ross said.
In the past, inmates would stick pencils into outlets to create a spark, Ross said. All outlets in the housing areas at Penobscot County Jail are now protected by a metal box with security screws.
Officials at the Cumberland County Jail couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on Friday.
Chute said all smoking materials are prohibited inside the Auburn correctional facility. He said that inmates would use lighters they had snuck into the jail to ignite the peels.
“People who are locked up will [try to] find something to do,” Chute said.
“Inmates given time will think about every conceivable thing,” Ross concurred.
Ross said the Penobscot County Jail serves inmates bananas and oranges frequently, but jail officials have not had to serve them without peels.
Chute said no inmates have faced further charges in connection to smoking the fruit peels.