The Financial Justice Project partnered with the Young Women's Freedom Center to publish a report on how many California jails use their commissaries as profit centers to fund jail operations. As a result, incarcerated people and their families pay the price.
Incarcerated people often purchase items sold in jail stores, called commissaries. Incarcerated people must pay for key necessities, such as stationary, stamps, soup, coffee, rice and beans, and hygiene items. Local California governments contract with private companies to provide commissary items to individuals in county jails. Charging high prices for commissary items is common across the country. This practice generates funds for county jail operations, and nets large profits for the corporations that jails contract with. The county jails set the prices and take a commission or profit on each product sold. This system is unjust. It takes money away from incarcerated people and their families and puts it in the pockets of private companies and sheriff’s departments.
We hope that this research, along with San Francisco's local efforts to eliminate commissary markups, spurs statewide reform.