Law \ Legal

Inflation Takes Toll on Incarcerated and Their Families

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As U.S. inflation reached its highest number in decades, the costs of everyday items in prison has dramatically increased, pinching the pockets of inmates and their families, reports Casey Quinlan of  Source NM. 

 

From the costs of fruit to deodorant, prices rose as high as 7.2 percent in Kentucky in July, according to the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

 

Everyday items like a 4.6-ounce tube of Crest toothpaste cost over $2 more in the prison commissary than at the local Walmart, and a 3-ounce Speed Stick deodorant was $4.52, compared to $1.98 at Walmart, according to the Center’s report.

 

An audit found that the Keefe Group, which runs Kentucky prison commissaries along with 14 states, priced most items up 40 percent. 

 

Despite the costs of items increasing, inmate wages have not, which often fall short of a dollar an hour, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. 

 

But several advocacy groups have fought the increases, targeting legislation in several states. 

 

Nevada has a bill proposed to check prices, and a Virginia working group recommended cutting the costs of commissary goods and replacing that revenue with $4 million from the general fund. 

 

In Massachussets, a bill requiring any prison facility not to charge more than 3 percent over the purchase price for any good is hopeful for next term. 

 

Keeping the prices in check is also critical for safety inside prisons. 

 

“It creates an atmosphere of violence,” said Jose Colón, a prisoner in New York. “It creates an unsafe environment because now people look to rob people and look to prey on each other because ‘You have something that I want.’” 

 

This summary was prepared by associate editor James Van Bramer.

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