The Commissary is Outrageously Expensive!

Thursday, August 18th, 2011 |

I started Thursday off by going to sick call to wait an hour for them to look at my finger in order to tell me in 5 seconds that my TB test was negative.  Later, I had to go back to medical again to have my DNA test.  So, I guess I am now in the national DNA database.  Even later, I went back to medical once more for my prescriptions which they normally distribute through a pill line.  They gave me mine to take back to the unit so I will not have to wait in line each morning.

Looking for a Job

Everyone is telling me that I should find my own job or the counselor will assign me to a food service or orderly position.  I decided to play to my strength so I went to the library/education department and applied for a job in either the library or tutoring inmates.  They took my application but said that these were popular jobs and guys did not give them up easily.   I also got the application for paralegal training offered from a correspondence college.

Inedible Food Last Night

The food last night was not edible.  They served scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy for dinner!  I ate almost nothing.  On Friday morning, they served cake with breakfast.  I haven’t even seen dessert at lunch or dinner, and they serve cake at breakfast!!

Commissary

I picked up my stuff at the commissary last night after dinner.  I went over my spending limit so I had to take some stuff off my list but got everything I thought was really important.  I really can’t survive without a watch, tennis shoes, radio, head phones, lock and some toiletries.  I can buy stamps every week but I can’t go to the commissary for another 30 days!!  Everything is 3-5x as expensive as in the real world. Christine tells me that the vendor for the Commissary is under investigation and there have been numerous complaints about what they charge in the system, but nothing changes. $300 doesn’t buy you much here. Just look at this Commissary List.

Stamps as Cash

Stamps are the underground currency here.  There are guys who carry them around as they would cash.  You can also buy stamps at less than face value by buying commissary items for the seller, so I am told.

I slept well last night.  Went to bed at about 10:15 and woke about 5:45. Fridays are supposed to be laid back so we will see.  I am going to work out on the next move.

I got some clarification on visiting hours from another inmate.  Sat, Sun and Mon are 8:30 – 3, Thurs & Fri are 2:30 to 8. Saturday and Sunday are only every other weekend.  I’ll confirm one more time with the counselor.

The Necessities: Prison Food, Clothing, Commissary & Sleep

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 |

Clothing

I got up very early today to get my khakis, which is the official uniform, since I only had a temporary clothing since intake.  My “cellie” lent me a sweatshirt and a pair of sweatpants because the transitional uniform was very uncomfortable. The laundry department issues clothing and they gave me a coat, 4 shirts and slacks, cap, boxers and undershirts, and a very uncomfortable pair of steel-toed boots.  I have plantar fasciitis so I can’t wear the hard boots that are the normal issue.   I went to medical to request a soft shoe pass so that I can trade the leather boots for shoes that look like black tennis shoes.  Thank God I had the orthopedic inserts I brought with me!  I had a doctor’s letter stating that I needed them so these inserts are considered medical equipment.  Also, the doctor’s letter will short cut the soft shoe pass approval.  But, they took my temp shoes away so I have to wear the boots until I get soft shoes.

Commissary

After lunch, I went to pick up my commissary order. It was a big order. You must buy a stereo radio and headphones to watch any TV or get music. A pair of tennis shoes are an absolute necessity to do any athletics or walk the track at all. I got a small amount of food, a watch, a razor and some other toiletries. There were other things that I cannot remember right now. I went over-board on my first order but I understand that most new inmates do.  The prison gives a new inmate very little so the commissary is the natural place to get the things to make prison life comfortable.

Food

prison food and wanter

Sometimes all I could really stomach was bread and water. Copyright: sonsam / 123RF Stock Photo

As I mentioned in the last post, the food is not good. This is a sampling of the food they are giving us: Tuesday dinner: sub and small salad; Wednesday meals: breakfast – 2 pancakes and bad bran cereal (I ordered some raisin bran from the commissary for this reason); lunch – hamburger (dried and overcooked) and fries (not too bad); dinner – Spaghetti with meat sauce; Thursday lunch: baked chicken and mashed potatoes. I have been drinking water at each meal because the only alternative is sweet drinks.

Sleep

Sleeping has been a major issue. The guy in the next cell snores all night long. Most of the inmates near me are young and like to stay up late. Most don’t care about keeping regular hours.  I try to hit the sack around 10 pm and wake up at 6 am. Inevitably, there is no time where it is completely dark or quiet. Everyone says I will get used to it. Seems hard to believe. I have a cloth to put over my eyes to block out the light.