I talked about restitution and it can seriously hinder the comforts and lifestyle of someone who has it. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to go without it money. Prison has its own economy. Technically we’re not allowed to “loan or borrow” anything, but to an extent it’s understood by the authorities that it’s going to happen so as long as it doesn’t cause problems and it’s accepted that it’s going to happen.

There are a bunch of ways to make money on “the streets“. One good way is through artwork. You can legitimately sell your artwork through the recreation department and they’ll transfer money from someone else’s account to yours, but that doesn’t solve the restitution problem. Most guys make cards, draw portraits, or draw tattoo patterns that they can sell to guys for commissary items. A lot of guys buy cards on a regular basis because it’s a nice way for them to show love and appreciation to those who they care about and support them. Birthdays and holidays are the most common reason. Different facilities have different allowable hobby craft, and some have classes. The facility in Saginaw I was at before I got moved here had a crochet class. I’ve seen guys make blankets, hats, scarves, socks, cup cozies, and they can all be customized with colors and names, the couple blankets I saw had pictures on them.

Maybe the most lucrative halfway legit way to make money is to run a “store”. A store guy is someone who keeps commissary items around to loan them with an interest rate of 50%. What this does is provides the option for people to have access to money on demand. This can be beneficial for quite a few reasons. Say someone decides to sell some shoes, sweat outfits, hair trimmers, or anything else and you don’t have the money on hand it might still be worth it to half to pay the 50% interest. Say you owe a debt and your money didn’t get processed in time to be on your account when they take money out for store. You can go to the store man to take care of your responsibilities and avoid a potential problem because if you owe someone and don’t pay on time you run the risk of them fighting you over it.

A guy might just know that he has money in his account and wants to eat and drink coffee, but he missed the last store, he might be willing to pay the extra money for the instant gratification. Store men solve a lot more problems than they cause because usually as long as you communicate with them you can come to an understanding to achieve whatever your goal may be. They also stop a lot of fights.

They deliver commissary (store) every 2 weeks so unless otherwise agreed on that’s the normal pay day. This is typically what I do to provide for myself. The reason why store men can charge such a high interest rate isn’t just because of what it provides to the consumer, but also because of the risk they have to take. If someone rides out to another prison, goes to the hole, or locks up (requests protection, which no one with heart or any kind of self-respect does) than that store man takes a loss unless they can catch back up to that person and even then it’s usually later on down the line so you won’t have it when expected.

Another pretty legit hustle is to make candy. From the products we can order on the store there are a few creative ways to make candy. You can find fudge being made everywhere you go. There are normally numerous people doing it in each unit. Suckers are another version, some with different flavors melted together, some have different flavors of taffy or other candy on the inside and might be coated in kool-aid. Taffy is something else that can be made in here. Carmel corn is one of the least common but has a pretty good profit margin.

Some guys simply use ingredients off the store to make food to sell like pizzas, calzones, and burritos. Other guys know how to fix electronics, being creative enough to make soldering guns and making things like remote controls for TVs.

There are also higher risk, more illegitimate hustles like selling drugs, tattooing, stealing, extortion, running a “ticket” (a gambling slip that has different odds, point spreads, over and under scores for sports), playing poker or gambling on any kind of game, taking hits, making knives, cooking “wine” or “spud juice”. These are just some of the main thing’s guys can do to make money on the streets, just like the world everything has a price. Some of the less popular hustles are things like sewing, ironing clothes, and washing dishes. Besides the opportunities that legit jobs can provide financially there are ways to provide for yourself.

Another big part of the economy in here are what we call “transfers”. If someone wires my people $50 out in the world, once I confirm that my people have it, I will give them $35 in here. For me personally what I use that money for is to invest in the stock market, but that’s for another blog.

Source of featured image: Flicka

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