153 Comments

I saw this firsthand when I was a teacher at our local county jail some years back. The food from the kitchen was awful, and the commissary insanely expensive. I felt most sorry for those guys (mainly) who had no one on the outs to put money on their book.

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What's really unfair are the limitations placed on food/item packages that families can send to their loved ones who are in prisons. These packages are usually limited to one per quarter, and sometimes to one per year. There is usually a 30 pound weight limitation on packages, and most states limit families to approved vendors, from whom the departments of corrections receive a kickback from. Markup on items in the packages usually range from 10% to 100%. The more healthy or necessary the item is, the higher the markup.

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Fun fact: incarcerated citizens in my hometown of Washington DC, including the Jan. 6th domestic violent extremists, can vote and run for office in local elections. Another fun fact: the voters in Northern Ireland elected incarcerated hunger striker Bobby Sands to parliament. "The by-election held in Fermanagh and South Tyrone on 9 April 1981 is considered by many to be the most significant by-election held in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.[1][2][3][4][5] It saw the first electoral victory for militant Irish republicanism, which the following year entered electoral politics in full force as Sinn Féin. The successful candidate was the IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, who died twenty-six days later

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Prisoners don't have unlimited WATER supplied free??? Please, please tell me they get all the tap water they want and the charge is for bottled water.

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The charge is for bottled water.

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Honestly, I thought the prices might be even worse. I try never to underestimate the greed of the powerful...this is one of the few times I have been wrong.

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I believe the big mark up is on communications with monitored phone calls rivaling 1-900 rates

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I have read ZERO of the comments on this, but "feminine hygiene products" are considered luxury goods in jail/prison. Tampons and pads are high-value items. TP is the same.

We treat prisoners worse than we would livestock.

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Ewwwww…so what are the “non-luxury” alternatives?

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Ta, Robyn. We all remember how scarce certain items were during the early pandemic days. Well, NYC decided to provide people with free masks and hand sanitizer, distributed on the subway (this was too little, too late, but OTOH every little bit helped). I checked the origin of said hand sanitizer. It was manufactured in state prison.

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The state agency I worked for was bound by statute to buy products from the "PIA", or Prison Industries Authority. They made our furniture, uniforms, even prescription eyewear. If it was in their catalog and we needed it, we had to buy it from them.

https://catalog.calpia.ca.gov/

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Whatever the traffic will bear...because the "traffic," has no choice. One of the benefits of Capitalism.

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Wait... what? Inmates have to buy water?

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The inhumanity in that shocks my core.

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"... for goods at prison commissaries in every state in the union ..."

Huh?

It says right here -- https://theappeal.org/locked-in-priced-out-how-much-prison-commissary-prices/ -- "Today, The Appeal published Locked In, Priced Out, a project that includes a first-of-its-kind database of prison commissary lists from 46 states."

Uncle Sam has 50 cousins, so every state in our Union is not listed. Missing are Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and, perhaps not unexpectedly, New York.

This occurred to me right away, as when I saw your iron-clad promise of prison commissary prices from "every state in the Union," I was particular interested in the price of a can of tomato soup, condensed, in the State of New York prison system.

You see, a confrontation over a can of soup acquired from the commissary was the spark that ignited the uprising at the prison in Attica, NY in September 1971.

But, alas, the promise proved to be inaccurate. The report, while enlightening, does not include data from "every state in the Union."

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What's the price on adult diapers? Asking for a friend.

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Hate to have tax dollars pay for his...

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They charge for water? That's fucking sick.

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My views are this:

1. Nobody should have to be buying food from a commissary while incarcerated. Three nutritious meals a day and two snacks should be provided to every inmate.

2. And I think Friday or Saturday nights there should be a dessert and entertainment option for good behavior. Kind of like how society works.

3. HVAC for everyone.

4. Prisoners should be earning minimum wage.

5. Phone calls should be free.

6. Hygiene products should be free.

We have got to stop treating people like trash. It doesn’t make anyone “learn their lesson.” If the point of correctional facilities is, you know, correction? Treat people with dignity and respect and require them to reciprocate.

And the people we have deemed too dangerous to return to society, and I fully accept that this is the case in some instances, they should have accommodations that more closely mirror normalcy while still providing protection to those who work with them.

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"In Georgia, where most prison labor is unpaid"

because of course.

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To paraphrase Chris Rock, “How can prisons make money if they ain’t working register?”

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One thing that will help is just keeping people out of jail in the first place. I hope more states do like Illinois and eliminate cash bail. Now judges are supposed to lock up defendants only if they're provably dangerous or a flight risk. The jail population plunged as a result.

Of course state Republicans fought and screeched and lied over and over about this in the elections before it took effect, and after they got their asses kicked at the polls, they ran to court to overturn it (and got stuffed). Luckily Illinois is a solidly blue state.

Unfortunately, that success likely can't be replicated in too many of the Fuckheaded States of America. And even more unfortunately, it won't help anyone in jail or prison. But at least it might free up more resources for them.

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Except the incompetent judges in Cook County don't lock up the dangerous criminals, because the utterly incompetent Cook County State's Attorney's Office doesn't ask them to!

Almost everyone caught on the street with a gun gets out, often without even an ankle monitor & sent home!

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