In federal prisons, the commissary serves as a store where inmates can purchase a variety of goods and services not provided by the institution. Access to the commissary can play a significant role in improving an inmate’s quality of life and promoting a sense of normalcy during their incarceration.
This essay will explore the federal inmate commissary shopping experience, the types of items available for purchase, and the policies and procedures governing commissary access.
Commissary Shopping Experience
- Inmate Trust Fund Accounts:
In order to make purchases at the commissary, inmates must have funds in their inmate trust fund accounts. Money can be deposited into these accounts by friends or family members, or through the inmate’s earnings from prison work assignments.
- Shopping Schedule:
Inmates are typically assigned a specific day or time each week or month when they are allowed to visit the commissary. This schedule is determined by factors such as the inmate’s housing unit or security level.
- Shopping Lists and Spending Limits:
Inmates are usually provided with a shopping list that details the items available for purchase at the commissary. The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) sets spending limits for inmates, which can vary based on factors such as their security level, disciplinary history, or participation in certain programs.
Items Available for Purchase
- Food and Snacks:
The commissary offers a variety of food items and snacks that are not available through the prison’s regular meal service. These may include canned goods, instant meals, beverages, and snack foods.
- Hygiene Products:
Inmates can purchase personal hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and shaving supplies at the commissary. While basic hygiene items are typically provided by the prison, the commissary may offer a wider selection or higher-quality options.
- Clothing and Accessories:
The commissary may sell additional clothing items, such as undergarments, socks, and shoes, as well as accessories like eyeglasses, watches, or hats.
- Recreational Items:
Inmates can purchase recreational items, such as books, magazines, puzzles, or art supplies, to help pass the time and engage in productive activities during their incarceration.
Some commissaries may offer electronic devices for purchase, such as MP3 players or tablets, which are preloaded with approved content and subject to strict security restrictions.
- Over-the-Counter Medications:
Inmates may have access to a limited selection of over-the-counter medications, such as pain relievers or cold remedies, through the commissary.
Policies and Procedures
- Inventory Control:
The BOP closely monitors and controls the inventory of items available for purchase in the commissary. This includes setting guidelines for approved products and ensuring that items meet safety and security requirements.
The prices of items in the commissary are generally set to be comparable to those found in the local community. The BOP seeks to ensure that prices are reasonable and fair, while also taking into account the need to cover the costs of operating the commissary.
- Security Measures:
To maintain safety and security within the prison, the BOP implements strict procedures and guidelines for commissary shopping. This may include limitations on the types and quantities of items that can be purchased, as well as restrictions on the possession or use of certain items within the prison.
Federal inmate commissary shopping provides incarcerated individuals with access to a variety of goods and services that can improve their quality of life and promote a sense of normalcy during their time in prison.
By offering a range of items, from food and hygiene products to recreational goods.