Someone who had recently been incarcerated complained to me about the cost of commissary at the Vigo County Jail.
Commissary items are small in size or quantity and are generally sold at high prices, regardless of which jail or prison alleged criminals serve their time. Inmates are limited to $100 for commissary items once a week at the jail in Terre Haute.
I needed to see the list of what she typically bought while in custody to understand how she was spending so much money. She sent me one of the final canteen lists she made as an inmate in November while serving time for her latest DUI charge.It included all types of things, ranging from mayonnaise packets to soap. Some things on the list seemed unnecessary to me, but I know unless I'm in her shoes (or jail "crocks") I can't say for sure.
According to the Vigo County Jail website, the jail commissary has a wide variety of items for sale to inmates, including board games, snack foods and pharmacy items. To make a deposit to an inmate's commissary account, use the kiosk located in the jail lobby. You may use cash, debit card or credit card to make deposit on the inmate's books at the kiosk. Orders can also be made by calling 1-866-394-0490 or by going to the website viamycarepack.com for a fee of $4.50 and minimum of $20 on the books.
Plenty of information and advice for friends and family wanting to know the basics of financially assisting the inmate's purchases is easily found on the internet. One site suggests allotting around $200 to help get the inmate situated in his or her jail cell to use for personal hygiene items and a few comfort items. Another site suggests as little as $15 a month can make the offender's time pass by more comfortably.
The former inmate I spoke with explained she often spent about $9 weekly on coffee, but, in fact, needed to spend $17 per week on coffee to be comfortable. She notes it cost $3.04 for 3 oz. bag of classic roast.
E-cigs are available on an alternative commissary list, at $10 each. She could spend about $30 a week on them, but often obtained additional E-cigs in the facility by trading three phone calls or six pack of drinks for one E- cig.
She sent me the following copy of one week's order with 61 items listed, totaling $82.55:
(2) Postage stamps .49 each
(3) Stamped envelopes .70 each
(2) black ink pens .43 each
(1) Legal pad $1.44 each
(3) Hypo Alerg Dial $1.40 each
(2) Lip balms $1.19 each
(2) Q-Tips 10 pk. .07 each
(2) Lg. Restaurant style chips $2.09 each
(3) Nutty bars .61 each
(2) Shrimp soup .47 each
(4) Cheez It crackers .93 each
(3) H&S beef sausage $3.81 each
(1) Freeze-dried coffee 4 oz. $5.00 each
(3) Oatmeal cream pies .61 each
(1) Picante .47 each
(3) Maple/Brown sugar Oatmeal .45 each
(1) Cherry pouch 6 oz. $1.33 each
(1) Hon/Must pieces .91 each
(1) Maxima coffee 4 oz. $2.46 each
(3) Butterscotch disk $1.15 each
(3) Brownie .61 each
(3) Classic blend regular $3.04 each
(2) Mayonaise packets .20 each
(1) Tortillas $3.55 each
(1) Iced Tea pouch 6 oz. $1.33 each
(2) Liquid creamer 5 pk. $1.30 each
(2) Sugar substitute 10 pk. .28 each
(3) Marshmellow crispy .61 each
(1) Dr. Pepper 20 oz. 6 pk. $9.69 each
For more information on jail commissary, call the Vigo County Jail or click the links provided below:
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Journalist, Terre Haute
Lucy Perry, 45, enjoys writing about issues in her hometown. She periodically expresses personal opinions in her blog, Terre Haute Times.
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News Writer: Lucy Pery PHONE: 317-527-4141