Commissary is big business. Private corporations have found ways to capitalize on every aspect of prison life all under the pretext of giving prisoners the essentials. However, this business folds into an exploitative empire.
Prison commissaries push the costs of incarceration onto incarcerated people. Corporations are able to make big profits by making basic necessities a priced good in the commissary. According to a 2016 estimate ,by the Prison Policy Initiative, commissaries make $1.6 billion per year nationwide.
What’s worse, commissaries often take what little wages prisoners make and put it right back into the system. On average prisoners in New York make just 65 cents an hour. This coupled with high commissary prices stretches their own and their families’ resources thin.
The commissary system illustrates just how much incarcerated people’s lives are entrenched in exploitative capitalism. Every piece of their lives are being sucked dry for profit. How could we fight back against corporations profiting from incarcerated people?