Since I owe restitution, I can only get $50 a month in my account. The calorie count required by the state to provide is 2,600 calories a day last time I checked. The last meal of the day is served around 6 pm. I’m young, active and my body requires more than what they serve in the chow hall. I also have to pay for my own hygiene. Here are some examples of we can buy in prison and what they cost:

  • Irish spring soap, 3 bars $3.49 (the same 3 pack you can get at the dollar store in the world)
  • Suave shampoo, $2.75
  • Suave conditioner $2.75
  • Colgate two in one toothpaste, $3.82
  • Speed stick deodorant, $3.49.
  • I also have to pay taxes on all non-food items.

If you add up all the hygiene it comes out to $16.30, plus $0.98 for tax which equals $17.28. Then if I want to stay in contact with people, I have to buy my own writing supplies, paper, envelopes, pens and pencils. If I want to buy stamps on JPAY, I have to pay for them out of my account. Fifty stamps on JPAY is $10. Paper is $1.12 for 50 sheets, and envelopes are $0.59 each. Phone calls are $0.16 cents per minute. Phone calls are limited to 15 minutes, so for a full call it costs $2.40. When I put money on my phone from my account, I have to put minimum $10 and it has to be in increments of $5 after that.  For the minimum  of $10 I can get about four full calls.

I also have to buy my own OTC medical supplies, aspirin, ibuprofen, cough drops, allergy medication, chapstick, lotion, Q-tips, baby powder, eye drops, antacid, anything like that we’re allowed to get. Everything that’s available to us to order on the store and what it costs is on the website michiganpackages.com.

All of this stuff does not even include stuff to help stay healthy like vitamins. The MDOC doesn’t care about vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in the food. All they care about is the necessary calorie count they are required to provide.

Those are just the basics. You have to buy your own cups, bowls, and sporks too. If you want to be active, play sports, workout, or do anything physical you have to supplement yourself with ordering stuff from the store. There’s no way to maintain being healthy with just the chow hall food, let alone if you have goals of getting strong and putting on some muscle which is important because you have to physically be able to defend yourself.

There are also clothes to consider. The state provides two sets of state blues (that you’re required to wear on visits, on your work detail, and to all callouts), three pairs of socks, seven pairs of underwear (that usually don’t fit right), two t-shirts, two sets of thermal tops and bottoms (that don’t really keep the warm in or the cold out) ,one pair of shorts, and one pair of shoes (that are thin, cheaply made, and don’t keep your feet dry or warm in the cold).

You can exchange quartermaster every six months. You can buy your own shoes, boots, thermals, personal shorts, sweatpants and sweatshirts, t-shirts, boxers, briefs, t-shirts, and socks. You can only turn laundry in to be washed every other day. If you want to be warm, clean, and comfortable you need to order your own clothes and shoes. You can only sign up for a haircut once a month and they only do basic cuts, so if you want to look presentable and maintain a clean appearance you have to order your own hair trimmers that run off batteries so you have to buy those too.

The JPAY kiosks are limited to 15 minutes at a time with a 2 hour wait period between logins. If you want to be able to store your pictures, e-mails, type your e-mails without a 15-minute limit, have any music, or play any games you have to buy a JPAY tablet. Music, games, and JPAY stamps all cost money. If you want to be able to watch TV, you have to buy your own 13″ flatscreen which I think the cheapest one is somewhere around $150. You also have to buy your own headphones or earbuds.

Fifty dollars a month isn’t much live off. Everything I talked about wasn’t even including buying your own food. It doesn’t matter where the $50 comes from either, whether it comes from someone sending it to me or earning it from a job in here. The one thing that they have done is allowed a seurepak once every three months to be sent that your people on the outside can order stuff for you, so you don’t have to buy it out of your account.

Source of featured image: Restitution in Criminal Cases

Share the story