Prison commissary

Prison commissary

A prison commissary or canteen is a store within a correctional facility, from which inmates may purchase products such as hygiene items, snacks, writing instruments, etc. Spices, including those packaged with instant ramen noodles, are a popular item due to the often bland nature of prison food. Typically inmates are not allowed to possess cash;[1] instead, they make purchases through an account with funds from money contributed by friends, family members, etc. or earned as wages. Typically prisons set a maximum limit of funds that can be spent by each inmate on commissary; in the U.S. federal system, it is $290 per month. It is generally prohibited for inmates to trade items purchased on commissary.[2] However, certain items tend to be used as currency. Cigarettes were a classic medium of exchange, but in the wake of prison tobacco bans, postage stamps have become a more common currency item, along with any inexpensive, popular item that has a round number price such as 25 or 50 cents. Mylar foil packets of mackerel fish or "macks" are one such item.[3] In 1930 the U.S. Department of Justice authorized and established a Commissary at each Federal institution.[4] Some prison commissaries are staffed by government employees and inmates, while others have been completely privatized. Significant price markups are common in prison commissaries, although some prison systems set maximum markups; for instance, the State of Delaware has a 20% maximum markup. $100 million in purchases were made from Texas' prison system alone in 2009.[5] Prison commissary is a privilege that is often taken away for infractions.

See also


  1. ^ "". 2004-07-24. Retrieved 2013-09-16. 
  2. ^ N. Joseph Potts (2008-10-02). "What Prison Really Means". Retrieved 2014-08-05. 
  3. ^ "Mackerel Economics in Prison Leads to Appreciation for Oily Fillets". 2008-10-02. Retrieved 2013-09-16. 
  4. ^ "BOP: Inmate Money". Retrieved 2013-09-16. 
  5. ^ Stiles, Matt (2010-11-23). "Texas Prison Commissary Sales". Retrieved 2013-09-16. 

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