Criminal Justice

After Inmates Sue for Dental Floss, Jailers Explain the Security Risk

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A jail in Westchester County, N.Y., offered a dental compromise of sorts after a group of inmates filed a $500 million lawsuit last month demanding access to dental floss.

Officials at the jail in Valhalla initially cited security concerns, but they now supply inmates with “Floss Loops,” the Associated Press reports. The circles of rubbery floss break easily, making it difficult to use them as a weapon.

It turns out that security concerns are not that far afield, the story says. “In Texas, officials believe a prisoner used floss to cut his way out of his cell, then jumped a fellow inmate and knifed him to death,” the story says. “In Maryland, Illinois, West Virginia and Wisconsin, inmates collected enough floss to braid it into ropes and escape, or try to, over prison walls.”

The TV show Mythbusters once tested whether an inmate could saw through a bar using floss fortified with toothpaste for additional strength. The show used a robot for its test and concluded that it was possible if a person kept at the task for eight hours a day for 300 days.

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