Deciding How Much Money to Put on the Books

What does the inmate need?

Contact the jail and ask what basics are supplied. Most jails give the inmates toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, soap and toilet paper. Ask them what happens if the inmate runs out of something. is it replaced right away or do they have to wait a week or longer for new supplies or use their own commissary funds to purchase more? This can make a difference in how much you send.

Medical needs?

If your inmate has problems with low blood sugar, the jail or prison diet may not provide enough protein or serve frequent enough meals to keep his or her levels in check. Commissary typically offers food items including nuts, jerky and other high protein choices that will make your inmate more comfortable.

Starting out

When inmates first arrive at a facility, their commissary costs are high. They stock up on initial stationery supplies, personal hygiene products, radios, snacks and other items. Once they’re stocked up, the commissary cost should go down because they only need to replenish as items run out.

Video: Gender specific commissary items

Request a list

Ask either the jail or the inmate to send you a commissary list so you can see what things cost at this particular facility and plan your budget and spending accordingly.

Final thought: Drugs and gambling are huge problems in penal facilities. Sending too much money can create problems for your inmate. Determine what the inmate needs each week, what you can afford and send only that amount. Don’t ever put off your own bills for the sake of sending commissary. The inmate will be fed, clothed and cleaned through the jail regardless of commissary options.


Related Blog: 5 Steps to Mailing Commissary Money to a Federal Inmate





About Mark Miclette 682 Articles
writes about inmates, jails, prisons, courts and the lives of people who live and work within the United States Criminal Justice System. His mission can be summed up in a single word; transparency.