How The Prison Industrial Complex Profits From Commissary Purchases

top commissary items inmates in northeast ohio prison like
Via cleveland19
Tremain Prioleau II
January 31, 2024

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.

Everything from toothpaste to toilet paper or deodorant are sold in commissaries. The most popular items are food. Prison food can be revolting and often won’t fill one's dietary needs. The commissary, while not known for healthy food choices, gives incarcerated people an option, but at a price.

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?

We have a quick favor to ask:

PushBlack is a nonprofit dedicated to raising up Black voices. We are a small team but we have an outsized impact:

  • We reach tens of millions of people with our BLACK NEWS & HISTORY STORIES every year.
  • We fight for CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM to protect our community.
  • We run VOTING CAMPAIGNS that reach over 10 million African-Americans across the country.

And as a nonprofit, we rely on small donations from subscribers like you.

With as little as $5 a month, you can help PushBlack raise up Black voices. It only takes a minute, so will you please ?

Share This Article: