Commissary Information

A commissary at a prison or jail is simply a store where inmates may shop for items that are not available through the normal allocation of supplies and meals. The commissary is a privilege bestowed on inmates that permits shopping once a week on a limited spending budget. The Federal Bureau of Prisons currently caps spending at $310 per month, whereas county and state jails usually adhere to a $50 - $75 per week limit.

Inmates must have money in their “inmate trust account” to purchase the available items. Inmates may receive money from the job that they hold in the prison or receive deposits from friends and family through a number of approved money transfer companies. The money sent through InmateAid’s website relationship with Western Union are cleared good funds with an hour of the same day. Other competing methods of sending money to inmates may take days or weeks for the funds to clear.

The commissary offers hundreds of items for an inmate to choose from that surprisingly are NOT given to inmates by the various institutions which include health and well-being supplies (vitamins, rudimentary first aid, aspirin or ibuprofen ALL of which are not counted against your month spending limit), personal hygiene (soap, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.), grooming, AM/FM radio with ear buds, writing materials, postage stamps, a wide array of food that comes in store-able Mylar foil packets with choices of quality tuna, mackerel, salmon, chicken and beef. Also, there are many things to help prepare meals with like a selection of spices, condiments, crackers, chips, cookies, candy and even ice cream. You can also buy cans of soda, tea bags and instant coffee. The commissary offers storage containers, bowls, cups, coolers to use the food you’ve bought. There are also clothing selections for exercising like sweat shirts and pants, tank tops, short, socks and sneakers. You may find several types of work boots available, which are much better quality that the standard issue which makes walking around more comfortable.

This section has relevant other content to answer any question you may have regarding the prison commissary and the “black market” culture where inmate-to-inmate services are paid for with these items. If you are unable to find certain information, don’t hesitate to use the “Ask the Inmate” box and receive an answer from a former inmate immediately…all for FREE.

Articles
Florida Inmates Consume Honey Buns at a Rate of 270,000 Per Month
By Ily Goyanes Thu., Jan. 13 2011There may be a new way to deter crime. Apparently honey buns (yes, those gooey, sticky, doughy sponges covered in cellophane) are more popular with Florida prisoners than cigarettes and Coca-Cola.Florida inmates buy about 270,000 honey buns per month. Fights have broken out and…
New commissary program offers inmates more variety
Inmates at the Charles B. Webster Dentention Center unload a shipment of items ordered from the commissary, which sells food and necessities.By Steve Crawford Sunday, July 22, 2012 Sheriff’s Sgt. Matt Tindell observed as jail inmates stacked bright blue storage containers on orange carts – 12 to a cart –…
You be the judge: Are these jail prices criminal?
A reader asked a good question about today’s story on the Ramen noodle craze at the Harris County jail. The story reported that inmates purchased more than 3 million noodle packs last year, but also detailed how inmates buy other food, clothes and personal hygiene items when they’re serving time…
Keeping the Faith in Prison - A Commissary Story
By Frank Green - The Richmond Times DispatchMonday, Nov. 19, 2007Dalvert Gilchrist stuffed two tote sacks with bags of chips, Ramen noodles and other goodies purchased from the prison commissary this month. Stepping back from a pickup window, the James River Correctional Center inmate said he spends $20 to $30…
Prison Coffee, Commissary, and the Alternative Inmate Economy
TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2011 One of the things I did not consider when I went to prison was that I would no longer get coffee. Of course, this was the least of my worries as I was readying myself to surrender, but having had significant amounts of coffee every morning…
The Prison Commissary: The Truth Behind What it is And How it Works - Yahoo
Pure Writing,Yahoo! Mar 17, 2008 By now you are probably wondering what is prison commissary? I am here to inform you what it really is. This article will only take a few minutes out of your busy schedule. All this information is true; I witnessed this in person. Prison commissary…
Cell-block busters - Sale items at Rikers prison commissary
Sale items spice up life at Rikers prison By JEREMY OLSHAN March 1, 2010 Customers at Rikers Island's commissary might get shanked -- but they're never gouged. The reasonable prices at snack bars at all the city's jails account for the success of the commissary operation, where last year prisoners…
Dining In: Inmate Commissaries
Prison and jail inmates earn cold, hard cash (a few cents per hour) for the work they perform during their incarceration. They’re also allowed to receive money from family and friends. However, prisoners are never allowed to touch even a single coin, so all cash received is placed into a…
Rikers Runs on Ramen & Other Prison Commissary Secrets
Just because you're behind bars doesn't mean you have to forgo your favorite snack foods and electronics. Today the Post takes a look at some of the stuff for sale to prisoners on Rikers Island, finding that the number one seller is Ramen, which can be had for 35 cents.…
Texas Prisoners Spent $95 Million at Commissaries
by Matt Stiles - April 8, 2010Inmates serving time in Texas prisons can buy certain “free world” goods — snacks, clothes, even cosmetics — provided that people outside unit walls send them the money.It’s a bustling business. During the last fiscal year, inmates spent about $95 million at prison markets,…