It is amazing just how resourceful and market-savvy people can be, no matter where they are and how dire their existence, survival is instinctive. Here are some examples (with pricing) of the various "services" inmates procure from one another. Be mindful that the currency in prison is a Mylar package of mackerel or tuna which sells at the commissary for about $1.00 (or commissary equivalent value if arranged beforehand):
Bed making and living area clean-up
- Your bed must be made and your area must be able to pass inspection.
If you don't like doing the maid's chores you can hire one of several
inmates who sell this hustle to make ends meet. The going rate for your
bed made, area swept and mopped your locker dusted and trash can
emptied five days a week,
you can hire an efficient inmate to handle these chores for you. Cost
is usually around 10 mackerels. This hustle is highly competitive and
rates will vary as will quality of service.
Buffing the Floors - After
your area is A+ from the cleaning service, you can occasionally call on
the orderly who waxes and buffs the common areas of the prison units. A
shiny floor in your area always looks good when the staff comes
around. Once a week cost you only 2 mackerels.
Shoe shine - Look great for visitation, with clean and shiny shoes! Only two mackerels.
Laundry service - Your clothes are in short supply and constantly need washing. You buy the detergent at the commissary and pay to have your dirty laundry washed, neatly folded and delivered to your bunk twice a week. It is an extravagance that few can afford, but well worth it if you can. Cost only20 mackerels per month
Chef services/cook meals - There are some pretty
talented and inventive inmates that make incredibly
delicious meals that you would not mind paying for. The chow hall
serves three square meals per day but they are not known for their
culinary expertise, flavor or quantity. You can hire a personal chef to
cook your meals for you. The price is steep, but you get what you pay
for. You provide ALL the ingredients whether from the commissary or
smuggled goodies from the chow hall and pay the chef2-3 mackerels per 3 course
meal. See recipe section for some ideas of what they have created.
Selling baked or cooked items - Burritos of all sorts, tortilla pizza, and tamales are delicious and plentiful. You might even try a slice of prison cheesecake,If you can't afford a chef, or are just looking for a quick snack you may buy it by the piece. Cost: 1-2 mackerels per piece, sometimes there are deals like 2 for $3.
Wine/Moonshine/Pruno - "There are stills up in there hills". Inmates have been
making alcohol or wine since the advent of prisons. Give a person with
ingenuity, ingredients and time and ANYTHING can happen. All that is
needed is fruit, sugar, yeast and a container. Cost by container size:
lemon bottle $10; Tang container $50; on gallon $250 (equivalent)
No-show job - 100 mackerel equivalent per month buys you the ability to have a "job", which is required, but for this fee you never have to be there to do the assigned work.
Visitation clothes pressing -1 mackerel per piece; delivered on a hanger, crisp and perfect.
Haircuts -All prison compounds have a barber shop. There are no "fees" to get a haircut since the prison has set up the facility, but try and get your hair cut when the barber knows you don't tip. 2-3 mackerel "tip" per haircut.
Personal training -Get in
shape, lift weights, do cardio, a Navy SEAL training regime, all supervised by
licensed personal trainers. this is the time and place to get in
shape and take back some years that you might have lost if remained unhealthy
like you were "on the street". 10-25 mackerels per month, sometimes more.
Legal or para-legal work - There are some pretty savvy legal minds that have been battling the courts for years and years. These people have nothing but time to research, file motions and find the most intricate defenses that your own lawyer would NEVER take the time find because of finances or know-how. Feescan range from a $50 equivalent or higher.
Black market food - Stolen food from the kitchen, basically everything that is in the kitchen can and will be stolen and then smuggled into the compound for usage or re-sale. Shredded yellow cheese(for example) is smuggled in a sanitary plastic glove and sells for 1 tuna or mackerel. Kitchen workers use their access to fulfill "orders" from the inmates who have the money to burn. Typically, the kitchen worker makes a higher wage scalebut that doesn't buy too much at the commissary. Therefore, many survive as they supplement their buying power bringing in “special orders” for inmates with chefs.
Inmates with access to greater amounts of money pay inmates without
much money a fee to "shop" at the commissary for them. Money gets
deposited into the commissary trust account of the shopper and then have
them shop for them. Cost for this service is usually 10-15% of money
Bed Exchange - Your bed is an assignment that comes from the prison staff, usually your counselor. The counselor has an inmate that acts as an orderly to deal with the day-to-day minutiae of dealing directly with inmate's wants. If you pay that orderly, you can have your location changed legitimately albeit with illicit funds. Charge: $100 - $200.
- The prison allocates mattresses that are not fit for human
relaxation. They are thinly stuffed beds covered in a hard plastic
cover. However, there are a limited supply of mattresses with a nice
cloth cover that have springs and significant padding inside. These
mattresses are occupied by someone who acquired it when another inmate
has been released. The transference of the Cadillac mattress is usually
in the price neighborhood of $150. The money is conveyed through an
outside transaction since the seller is not in need of mackerels, they
are going home so someone in the family receives the purchase price
Yes, there is always one or two people on the compound that have
experience, maybe even a licensed therapist that offer one hour massage
which will rival the Ritz Carlton. If you work out and have a lot of
stress, set aside ten mackerels and you can escape...for at least an
- The prison allocates a minimal amount of clothing. Two sets of
"uniform of the day", t-shirts, socks, underwear, a belt and work
boots. The commissary sells workout-type clothing that you may wear
when not required to be in uniform. Inmates that work in the laundry
come across lots of "extra" clothing that becomes a commodity on the
compound. Each piece of clothing gets bought or sold at whatever the
market will bear. Ask around if you need another sweatshirt, usually
you can buy one on the market for less than half of the price at
commissary. Shoes are also a popular item, either sneakers or work
shoes hold their value as there are some very good versions available at
Radio,Headphone, Watch Repair - Radios, headphones and wrist watches are essential for the prison life. Without a radio, your quality of life suffers greatly. Radios cost about $45 in the commissary with headphones or ear buds running from $10 - $45. When they break, your lifeline to the outside world shuts down. There are inmates whose hustle is to fix broken wires or worn down transistors. Cost for this tremendous service is 2-5 mackerels and WELL WORTH it!
Parlor – Yes,
read about exactly how these artists tat up inmate’s sleeves in the joint. We have a few articles archived that detail just how inventive inmates are. BUT, don’t get caught, or else you’ll end up in the hole
or worse…shipped out to prison locations far away. Cost run from$25 to $100 equivalent.
Gambling - One of the most oft-used services of any on the prison compound; whether it be the local bookie taking action for NFL and college football, running parlay tickets, running nightly numbers, to the Texas Hold 'em table...gambling is rampant, but can be dangerous if you don't pay.
Alcohol - Alcohol is available in prison and has for as long as there have been prisons. Alcohol is made by inmates who collect the necessary ingredients from the chow hall, commissary or from visitors or guards. Yes, guards will do pretty much anything for money, just like the cons. Any ingredient with sugar in from fruits or vegetables to even things like ketchup can be crafted into an alcohol the cons call "pruno" or "juice".
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