Since inmates are not allowed to possess cash money while in custody in the Cook County Jail Division 10, the jail maintains a 'bank account' for the inmate to purchase products and services from their commissary (canteen) store.
Commissary funds allow inmates to purchase items such as personal hygiene products, snacks and stationery supplies from the jail store.
Inmates can use money from their account to purchase phone time credits or prepaid phone cards in order to make outside phone calls to friends and family members.
Many jails also allow an inmate to bail himself out of jail if he has the funds in his account. The bail amount is typically 10-15% of the bond amount set by the court.
Inmate accounts are also used to pay the co-payment for medication and visits to the jail's medical clinic should they become ill.
Anybody can contribute to an inmate's books or commissary fund as long as there isn't a no-contact order in place.
Because of the ability for family members and friends to deposit money online using a credit or debit card, jail inmates can now receive funds from anywhere in the world.
There are usually four choices for putting money on an inmate's books:
Dropping Money at the Jail
Bring money to the jail in person. Click here or here to see where to drop money off and whether it has to be cash or a money order.
Jail personnel will process the Inmate Account payment.
Some jails have self-serve kiosks in the lobbies that accept cash, debit or credit cards.
If you can't get your questions answered online call the Cook County Jail at 773-869-7100.
Cook County Jail and others often use a private company to process all online deposits to an inmate's account. The company charges you a small fee for doing so, but the fee probably isn't as much as gas and parking would cost to take it to the jail in person.
Click here or here to reach the online site for depositing funds. You will need to register an account, which is free to do and use a debit/credit card for the deposits.
Mailing a deposit takes more time to process than the other methods but can be done if you live too far away to bring it in person and you don't have a debit/credit card for online deposits. Never send cash. Always send a Money Order from the US Post Office, a reputable bank or Western Union.
Make the Money Order out to the inmate's name and put their Inmate ID# in memo section of the Money Order.
Call Cook County Jail at 773-869-7100 to confirm the address to send the money order to and how they want it made out.
Failure to do this properly will delay your inmate getting his account credited and may require you to have to resubmit a second money order.
Click here or here to view online how to make the money order out and where to send it.
Most of the online companies will accept deposits over the phone with a debit or credit card. To do this you will need the inmate's offender # (inmate ID #) and full legal name.
Click here to find out about making a deposit over the phone.
People who have never been to jail would be surprised by the large amount of candy, snacks, art supplies, playing cards, hygiene products and clothing that can be purchased through a jail's commissary. Some jails have several hundred different items.
The Cook County Jail Commissary Instructions and Information can be found here. If you need more information contact the jail by calling 773-869-7100.
Some jails have contract agreements with third party Commissary companies that ship predetermined Care Packages of candy and snacks.
These can be ordered by you online and are delivered directly to the inmate.
Jails typically have limits on how much money an inmate can have on the books at any one time.
They also have limits on how much you can deposit for an inmate at a time.
The standard monthly limit an inmate can spend is between $300 and $400.
Call Cook County Jail at 773-869-7100 or click here to learn the Inmate Account deposit limits and other rules regarding depositing money on an inmate's books.
Many jails debit (charge) an inmate's commissary accounts for medical visits, any medications including over-the-counter pain reliever, jail stay fees, restitution, etc.
Taking this into consideration when deciding how much to deposit will ensure the inmate gets the amount you wanted him to have after things are deducted.
A quick call to the Cook County Jail at 773-869-7100 will let you know how much is deducted from the books for each fee related to medical issues or other jail expenses.
Online you can find the medical fee information by going here, Other Cook County Jail fees can be determined by going here or calling 773-869-7100.
Call the Cook County Jail at 773-869-7100 and ask how you can view a commissary list. This gives you an idea of what things cost the inmate and you can make an informed decision regarding how much to deposit.
Not surprisingly much of an inmate's commissary money is used to purchase item's to pay gambling debts or purchase prescription medicine from another inmate. If your inmate is spending more than $3-4.00 a day on commissary items, you are paying for him or her to gamble or buy drugs.
Put your financial needs first and the inmate's second. Don't forget, the inmate is getting three free 2,000 calorie meals a day. The food may not be of the highest quality, but the commissary food is generally much less nutritious.
Click here to view the jail website for additional information.