Robbery by the FLDOC Canteen System

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[Economics] [Florida] [ULK Issue 62]
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Robbery by the FLDOC Canteen System

While reading a comrade's April 2017 SF Bay View, National Black Newspaper, I cam across an ad regarding the Texas prisoners' boycott of the prison commissary injustice.

This ad helped me realize that the unarmed robbery of the loved-ones of prisoners is not only a Florida atrocity, but a national occurrence. Prisoners in Texas and other states are being used as a means of robbing not only tax payers, but loved-ones of prisoners, who are constantly being punished for supporting prisoners financially and emotionally. The imperialist monopolizers are making hundreds of millions annually through the commissary system. I can't help but confirm and echo the main points of the Texas prisoners' ad:

  1. Sub-par and poor quality food items.
  2. Faulty electronics that regularly break (after short use).
  3. Tennis shoes which tear up after a week of use.
  4. Inflated prices and price gouging tactics.
  5. Abuse and disrespect from employees of commissaries.

All of the above mentioned is nothing but the truth to which I would love to add more. In Florida, specifically Charlotte Correctional Institution, there exists a staff canteen menu and a prisoner canteen menu. The double standard and financial discrimination can't help but be realized once both menus are compared. Prisoners are paying twice as much as staff for the same food items. Some of the most popular food items are listed below for your own concluding.

Charlotte CI staff canteen menu prices and Prisoner Canteen menu prices:

ItemStaff pricePrisoner price
sodas.56.99
honey buns .70 1.35
chips .5 .99-1.49
candy bars .75 1.39
water .5 .99
oatmeal .23 .53
poptarts .56 1.18
soups .56 .70
ice cream .93 2.19
danishes .7 1.28
nutty bars .47 1.00
saltines .7 .88 per sleeve
trail mix .47 1.00-1.28
BBQ sandwich 1.64 3.49
Pizzas 1.64 2.98
Tuna 1.87 2.47

The above list does not mention hygiene items. However, prisoners are paying exorbitantly for hygiene items that are clearly not worth their price. For example, the $4 deodorant from prescription care and Oraline-Seccure (meant for indigent prisoners) leaves prisoners musty in just a matter of hours. The $2.85 prescription care lotion is so generic it dries the skin quick as it moistens it. And it's definitely not meant for Black people. The $1.12 prescription care shampoo does not lather up and causes more dried scalp and itching than the state soap. There is 99-cent soap claiming to be anti-bacterial and 50-cent soap, both made by Silk. Neither of these soaps are worth even being given away for free.

Prisoners do not want these canteen items. They complain amongst each other but are too cowardly to write grievances or stop buying from canteen. We all know that it is our loved ones who are being attacked by the state. We all know our families who support us are being extorted, but the needle is just too deep in our veins. Florida only has one canteen vendor (Trinity) leaving us without options or other places to shop. We are simply victims of a monopoly and we are contributing to our own victimization.

It is quite clear that the canteen profits only benefit Trinity and high-ranking members of the state prison system. It is clear that the profits are being used against prisoners rather than for their welfare and genuine rehabilitation programs.

Even in the visiting park, freeworld citizens visiting their loved-ones are forced to pay prisoner canteen prices. This price-gouging is a war against the innocent citizens who support prisoners. It also results in the isolation of prisoners from the outside world and leaves prisoners dependent and vulnerable against the state.

One is left with no choice but the question: where is all the profit from the unarmed robbery of prisoners' loved ones? What is being done with these millions of dollars in profit? This matter must be investigated and objectively challenged. We prisoners surely need to stop perpetuating our own victimization by the state of Florida DOC.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer exposes one of the many ways that companies and individuals are making money from the prison system in this country. While overall the prisons are run at a financial loss, subsidized for most of their costs by state and federal funds (i.e. taxpayer money), lots of people are still making money off the operation of prisons.

Obviously the prisons' employees (COs, administrators, etc.) are earning a good salary and have an interest in keeping the system going. In some prisons medical is contracted out, and then there are the many companies that sell prisons all the stuff they need to run: from clothing to food to furniture to security equipment. Most of this is funded by a subsidy from the government.

But canteen is a case of the costs falling on prisoners' families. And this is just one of many costs borne by families of prisoners. As we exposed in an article in ULK 60 "MIM(Prisons) on U.$. Prison Economy - 2018 Update," mass incarceration costs families and the community $400 billion per year.

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