III-"Doing Time" - Richard Stewart - Boston Globe

III-"Doing Time" - Richard Stewart - Boston Globe

Rules to Learn; Cigarettes are Money

by: Richard H. Stewart | publication date: December 29, 1983 | Publication: The Boston Globe | pages: 49

I learned that was the rule in jail. If you borrowed something you paid it back twofold. Borrow a cigarette and pay back two. There was also a three-for-two rule. You paid back three cigarettes for two. That was a better deal since the profit margin was only 50 percent rather than 100 percent. Inmates were not allowed to have money. Each inmate's money was kept in his account at the jail canteen, which was only open Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Cigarettes were the principal mode of currency. 

Boston Globe reporter Richard Stewart went undercover as a prison inmate and served six days in a Salem jail for a phony DUI conviction. This is the third of his five part series titled "Doing Time" where he describes his interactions with the other inmates and how he discovered the prison's unspoken rules.

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