Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Texas prison inmates spending $100 million per year: On what?

In preparation for a forthcoming article, Matt Stiles at the Texas Tribune just put online an interactive dataset on the subject of "What Texas inmates buy." The answer: Far and away mostly food, followed distantly by grooming materials, stamps, and clothing. Texas inmates collectively spend more than $100 million per year at TDCJ commissaries. Nearly all that money comes from inmate families, not the offenders themselves.

Relatedly, TDCJ recently suggested diverting $5 million in profits from commissary sales if the Legislature requires them to cut their budget. Perhaps we'll learn more details about that in the Tribune's upcoming coverage.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just like when they on the outside they live off the female.

Anonymous said...

inmates buy food because they sure don't get enough from the chow hall, and what they do get is often inedible.

Anonymous said...

He might take your check when he's in but will he be your man when he gets out? Too many women chasing the player.

Charity said...

They also buy food because they want a little variety in their diet and probably some reminders of the outside world.

And to the two of you giving families hell for supporting their loved one what do you care? You have no idea who any of these prisoners are nor the reason they are in prison. I hope you never find yourself in trouble of any kind and having to rely on family for support. Try growing a heart or at least mind your own business.

Boyness said...

If you haven't learned by the time your "man" gets to prison, you will NEVER figure it out. get out your check book and shut the hell up.

ROFLMAO

sunray's wench said...

Ignorance is bliss I suppose.

It is one thing to tell a woman that she should ditch her husband for going to prison, but what about the parents who under every other circumstance you would be yelling at to take care of their kids? Charity, sometimes the Anons here don't deserve a response, particularly when they display such ridiculous blinkered views.

Just as with the phones, this report shows yet another way that Texas feels justified in taking double taxes from a large portion of the residents.

Anonymous said...

Having a heart is one thing. Being one of five women sending the thug a check and believing you're the one is another thing. Will he limit himself to five suckers when he gets out?

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Hey Grits, Bugler, coffee & matches sales alone were about that in the 80s. No telling how much was made by the guards with big ass lunch boxes. Now coffee & stamps are the new currency. BTW, running it is more lucrative & safer than being the Warden. No one shanks the food dude.

The guard(s) running the commissaries are almost always the (too fat for horseback crowd) & there is plenty of opportunity for them to cook the books. There are no checks & balances in place just like the evidence & property rooms lack in oversight. Inventory conducted by inmates & the refusal to eat pork & abused chickens is a whole other story.

*To the Anon. that at first glance seemed like an idiot, you've obviously been scorned or duped in a pen-pal scheme. Therefore, some of us will tell you to don't be a frigin fool with your money. But, if you have the need to give money away and want nothing in return try donating to the SPCA, GFB or PNG.

I'll add to that by saying if your family or loved one asks for some money consider this. He/she could be getting strong armed for protection or just flat out tired of eating boiled food by products. If you've ever eaten mushy grasshoppers, crickets & dirt that's seasoned with pebbles, sand & (aintmeat) you'll beg, borrow & steal. If that doesn’t work some will resort to lying with love letters & promises. Now like Boyness says make that check payable to_____________. Oh yea, Charity, Sunray's Wench & 7:04 replies are spot on. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Having "been there", I will say that the money my loved ones sent me for commissary made the difference in making the ten months I spent at the human torture factory known as SAFP Gatesville just barely bearable as opposed to completely intolerable. As the above poster said, the food was often inedible, full of rocks, sticks, bugs and dirt, or "mystery meat" of unknown origin, or had been gnawed on by the all too visible rats running amok in the neon light fixtures and bashed in ceiling panels in the chow hall (providing entertainment while you eat!). The simple relief of being able to stay in the dorm and warm up some beef stew in the hot pot instead, or of having actual shampoo and conditioner instead of trying to use lye soap to wash my hair, or of having deodorant so I did not have to both look AND smell like a dirty dog after working in the yard in the summer heat shoveling pig manure, made a lot of difference.

Anonymous said...

I can fully understand an offender's desire to by the commissary food. As a former non-grey employee of TDCJ, I can say hands-down that the chow hall food was awful!! we ate turkey products at our unit and the ODR food was down the line identical to the offenders chow hall except we could have seconds (??!!). The food had no seasoning,except for a little black pepper and/or onion. That means no salt. It was a unit-wide event when the TYC units were shut down and we got some of the meat...holy mackeral what a deal. This is no offense to the man that ran the food service as he could only do so much with what he was given but also a person could stand only so much of ground turkey and noodles, or ground turkey described as chili or what it was named. Breakfast was the best because you could get eggs some days and pancakes some days. As to the amounts, I agree with anon 04/06 @ 7:04 that the amounts could not sustain a grown man if he had much of a TDC job; ie field work or yard work.
Anonymous

Anonymous said...

Mr. Thomas Griffin...your comments shows your lack of knowledge of the commissary operations in the State of Texas. There are no "gaurds" in the commissary. The position is staffed with Inventory and Store Specialists. The inmates are not allowed to do inventory and all locations are inventoried once per month and audited once per year. The commissary operations are on a point of sale system which monitors all items down to the penny. No cooking of the books as you say. I worked there for years and it provides a great service for offenders.

Anonymous said...

Cry me a F-ing river do any on yall never think of the burden you put on your family when your out breaking the law. I've worked in TDCJ for years and watch MOM DAD GRANDMA GRANDDAD and all your CHILDREN come visit every chance they got. I've seen the hurt on their faces and heard the children cry when leaving visitation. I respect them and fill for them. I know anyone can be in the wrong place at the time or get caught up in the wrong crowd or just have a brain fart and end up in prison. I take issue on the repeat offenders that come back to TDCJ with new crimes. YOU have NO respect for your LOVED ones for GODS sake when you get out stay the Hell out don't come back. TCB when you hit them streets be there for your family like they were for you don't put them through that ever again.

Pirate Rothbard said...

I heard some woman on television say that dating an incarerated man was the ideal. You don't have to cook for him, he has no women to screw around with and you always know where he is.

Still though, you law and order types need not worry. I suspect that not that many inmates have a girl waiting for them. And remember the woman can also cheat on the man while he's incarcerated.

By the way Sunray, do you have an AshleyMadison profile? I live in east dallas, let me know if we can hook up.

Debbie said...

Matt,
The tree chart is awesome! It was with interest that I reviewed the spend on supplements. I am firm believer that omega fatty acids help control various mental illnesses that so many of inmates seem to have. Thanks for providing the information. My son has been in for 10 years now and if it were not for the ability to purchase items from the store his life would be even more miserable. It is amazing what you can cook in a hot pot.

Anonymous said...

It's so easy to make caustic remarks when you've never been involved with the system. My son is in there because he chatted online-nothing more- with an undercover officer posing as a 15 year old. Not everyone that is there is a hardened criminal and there are many others on the outside that have done far worse. Breakfast is served before 4 in the morning and the evening meal is served mid afternoon. Take an extra minute tying your shoes and your cell door will shut before you get out for chow. You don't mind lockdowns because at least the peanut butter is edible. My son has spent the money we give him (which has his court ordered fees deducted every month) on extra food, antacids for the IBS that doesn't get treated there, and stamps. He also had to buy his own shoes so he could exercise outside and thermals because the whites aren't warm enough for winter. The only 'luxuries' he has are the fan and radio that make this time bearable. Each of those cost over $20. I pray that none of you who are so callous have to find out the hard way how screwed up this system is.

Anonymous said...

Chatted? Maybe he didn't tell you the real story.

Anonymous said...

Mam every story has two sides. We have a tendency to believe our kids and think our kids can do no wrong. You support your son because you love him and that's great keep it up he needs your support. But very few people go to prison on a first offense unless it is something real bad now there exceptions to the rules because Lord knows the system isn't perfect. But NONE of us are without sin.

sunray's wench said...

Pirate, I dont think that would be a good idea. Sorry for straying from the stereotype of a "typical inmate wife" but I have no desire to "hook up" with anyone other than my husband.

It is always interesting to see what people know and what they think they know. Inmates are only permitted to spend $80 at commisarry every 2 weeks (Ad Seg and DR inmates have a lower limit). Even if those inmates had $80 at their disposal, it is highly unlikely that commisarry has all the items that the inmate has indicated they wish to purchase. It is not like going to a free-world store: the inmate must fill out a shopping list and hand it to the clerk. If the commisarry is out of certain items, there is no option to pick something else. If the inmate runs out of funds half way down their list, there is no option to put something back in exchange for something at the bottom of the list.

And dont even get me started on some unit's refusal to stock international stamps, or even a range of postage denominations so that the correct postal fee can be made up. My husband currently has to pay $1.32 to mail a letter that would otherwise cost 98c.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 4/07/2010 1:42,
During the early 80's (and before)Griff's statement concerning correctional staff ruunning the Commissary is a correct statement.
When out of state correctional professionals were brought to Texas to become directors of TDCJ (then TDC)they removed correctional positions in numerous areas and made them non-correctional officer positions. These positions included personnel, commissary, Grievance, classification, and others.

Retired 2004

TDCJ EX said...

Sunray that is apparently true. People will make ignorant remarks some for “entertainer “ others think that they are not Those people “ who end up in prisn because they don't do anything “wrong “ Ther are a lot of people in TDCJ who have never been convicted of anything and are now dservinga very long sentence for what in others states is either a misdemeanor or not even crime . It might be interesting to look at the 2300+ and growing list felonies that can land you in TDC J. Almost every one in TX has committed least one more than once and not even know it . Ift hey don't they either are prefect seeing that does not exist they are lying .It is impossible to live with out committing them. . With the vague Law of Parties that require you to be clairvoyant every one can be convicted.

The food in TDCJ varies from unit to unit and who is working in the kitchen most prisoners do most of the work a captain oversees and supervise it .I am mot at all surprised that food is the most purchased them; after looking at what from a “ex convicts” ( I refuse to use the word inmate or offender) view . They are using their hot pots to cook meals . You would be surprised at what they will make with the corn chips and salsa and whatever else they happened to buy at store a few types of meats and fish in pouches are available

The hygiene supplies are very crude and often used when they run put of what they but at store and also clean their cell or cubicle .

For those who say don't go back to prison go try to find a job with a felony conviction . That is the rason for most recidivism . The tuff on crime “ that I might get votes but is both ineffective and not keeping any one safe . Maybe when the state starts convicting more of the types who vote for the tough on crime types things will change . When their kids gets busted for prison possession is son or disturbing all thy have to do is sell one of their Methylphenidate or Carisprodol tablets to become felon .

Something tells me those who are tossing out insults would scream the loudest if it was them in TDCJ .At the rate TX is legislating every behavior into a felony carrying TDCJ time soon it will be

Anonymous said...

Mom here again - not what my son told me - what his lawyer and his probation officer told me. 10 yr deferred adjudication - he violated it by working at an adult sports event (child safety zone) and watching an adult movie, Probation was revoked-he's in jail. Don't believe it doesn't happen - it's happened to a lot of guys.

Anonymous said...

It really sucks when my commissary list matched the out list exactly. Dang!

Anonymous said...

Hey mom can you say sex offender.

Anonymous said...

"Hey mom can you say sex offender."

yeah and so what anon 5:02?

mom. he might be in for probation violations, but your son has shown some really bad reasoning skills and distortions about his choices and livestyle.. I did 7 years probation for the same thing. And yes I understand you can get serious time for only chatting, but I fear he isn't being completely honest with you. We Sex Offenders are reasonably good at mind games, While showing offensive behaviors, we can be very persuasive and manipulative. It takes YEARS to correct our thought processes and get back into proper thinking patterns and that is ONLY if you are completely receptive to treatment.


That said, the main problem here is your son didn't learn the first time. He faced serious charges and got off relatively easy. Deferred adjudication is NOT something that is worth much anymore, Texas treats it ,illegally, as a conviction even when you finish without a hitch; however that may be, Your son knew that child-safety zones, and adult oriented movies were off limits, It is on paper from the courts, and he was supposed to go over those DAILY on his own to keep himself out of trouble, yet he put his pleasure ahead of anything else.

This is the same thing he did to commit his crime. If he had been sincere in treatment and following his court ordered restrictions for those 10 years, he'd still be out today.

This isn't a bashing of your son, it is an understanding about how things are affecting you and him.

Chances are few and far between in the legal system and when you mess one up, it will cost you plenty as your son now knows.

I did 7 years on deferred probation and didn't put my wants or desires in front of the family that loves me and needs me here. I did the time and was rewarded by being able to stay at home, I surely wished your son would have learned the same thing.

Anonymous said...

You made the right choices moms son didn't. You made the right choices when you got out I wish everyone would. So many fall right back in with the people they were running with when they got locked up and the same bad habits.

Anonymous said...

02:46 My hat is off to you bud.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Retired, thank you for engaging the Anon. that assumed I didn’t know what I was talking about.

I am glad to learn that procedures have changed somewhat, probably has nothing to do with scams, fraud, embezzlement, etc.. Thanks again.

B.Allen- O.B. Ellis Unit said...

As an officer in gray I am glad that we have commissary. The chow hall food is bad, most of the time. But commissary is also a great management tool. Convicts don't want their commissary taken away so the act better so that they don't get a case and have 30,30,30.. (visit, cell restriction, and commissary) So what if the family's of convicts are sending them money, those convicts are always appreciative of that (most of the time). Untill you have worked and or stayed in a prison you have no idea that it is a world of it's own