Toilet paper is becoming a sought after commodity at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility after officials began limiting inmates to one roll at a time to trim costs.

Officials say the prison has long had a limit, but they learned recently that it hadn't been enforced. Increased enforcement began this month.

Under the prison policy, inmates are restricted to four rolls of toilet paper each month or on an "as-needed" basis.

Steve Schneider, public information officer for the prison, said officials also restated restrictions on other personal items, including soap and toothpaste, as a result of stockpiling and overuse.

The increased enforcement has angered many of the more than 1,600 inmates housed at the facility.

"Some take this for granted," inmate Carl Kennedy said in a letter to The Hutchinson News. "But in here it's part of a safeguard for widespread infections. We use it to blow our noses, clean sinks, toilets and tables."

Prison officials said the policy could save the prison nearly $600 each month if each inmate uses one less roll each month.

"There are a lot of things that individually don't cost much," said Kansas Department of Corrections spokeswoman Frances Breyne. "But when you multiply that by hundreds, it makes a drastic impact."

Schneider insists inmates won't go without toilet paper. Charmin four-packs can be purchased at the prison canteen for $2.70, and anyone who produces an empty roll will receive a new roll of toilet paper.

One side effect of the policy could be that toilet paper will become a new form of currency among inmates.

"Anything you restrict becomes a thing of value," Schneider added. "It automatically becomes a means of dealing and trading."