How Does a Prison Commissary Work?
Published April 12, 2023
Money is not permitted for prisoners to possess. But, if their family sends them money or if they’re able to earn money by working a prison job, the earnings are deposited into a personal prisoner trust fund. The majority of inmates refer to this as “commissary money.” Often, inmates who have maintained their good behavior can spend their trust fund money in the commissary.
A commissary in jail is a store, particularly for incarcerated individuals, that is placed within the facility. It is possible for it to carry a wide variety of products. Personal care products such as soap, shampoo, and toothpaste are included. Indeed, prisoners could live on three meals per day, but a prison commissary is an ideal choice if they want something extra or of quality.
How a Prison Commissary Work
Most prison allows inmates to go to a commissary once every couple of weeks. Inmates go to the commissary with a list of goods they wish to purchase and wait in line at the window to make their purchases. When their order from the commissary is completed, they will receive a bag packed with commodities, including food, drink, toiletries, and stationery.
With permission, prisoners can also purchase items such as shoes, fans, typewriters, undergarments, and basic over-the-counter drugs.
Although it is against prison rules, many inmates trade commissary goods for other commodities they need or prefer. If a prisoner lacks funds for the commissary, they can typically earn things by doing services for other inmates, such as repairing items or doing their laundry. Inmates are known to be creative, and a secret barter system is always in place.
What Prisoners Buy in Commissary
Unsurprisingly, food tops the list. Jail and prison cafeterias are known for offering inadequate, unappetizing meals. Inadequate nutritional value is another major concern with prison food. While the jail commissary may supplement the cafeteria’s lack of calories, more must be done to compensate for its poor quality.
There is no fresh food available; the majority of commissary items are highly processed. Not surprisingly, ready-to-eat food and snacks are top sellers, as many inmates want more food than what the prison can provide, and ramen and candy bars are the easiest alternatives.
How to Lose Commissary Privileges
The threat of losing commissary privileges is to deter inmates from breaking the rules. From showing disrespect to staff to engaging in violent behavior with another inmate, the list of offenses that can result in a suspension of commissary privileges seems endless. The privileges of the commissary have been weaponized. And it does not take a lot to be put to commissary restriction. Since collective punishment is the norm, inmates can have their commissary privileges modified due to the independent actions of another prisoner or group.
The practice of charging high prices for jail commissary items is widespread across the country. This practice generates funds for the county jails’ operation and huge profits for the businesses with which the jails contract. The county jails choose the prices and get a cut of the commission or profit for each item sold.
The prison commissary is a store that allows you to purchase products to make their sentence a little more convenient and comfortable. There is a schedule for visiting the commissary, and there are restrictions on what can be purchased. Lastly, a prisoner may lose privileges and price gouging is prevalent.
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About The Author
Krizzia Paolyn is an SEO Specialist with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. It has always been her passion to share her voice, and at the same time, to encourage other people to speak up.