Imagine you have a family member who has been in prison for a month. You decide to send them some money to buy a tube of toothpaste from the prison store. How much would you need to send them?
At some prisons you’d need to send $130.
Jails often deduct intake fees, medical co-pays, and the cost of basic toiletries first, leaving the prisoner’s account with a negative balance. To provide enough money for them to buy that initial tube of toothpaste would often require, at a minimum:
- $25 for booking fee
- $90 for subsistence and medical co-pays ($3 a day for 30 days)
- $8.95 for payment transfer fees
- $5.64 for Senodyne toothpaste
This is one of the findings from an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity that reveals how prison bankers, private vendors in prisons, and corrections profit off the innocent by shifting costs onto inmates’ families.