How Commissary Works

Inside a prison you cannot go to a store to buy items you want or need, instead you must rely on commissaries. These are essentially prison stores offering snacks, personal hygiene items, writing instruments, and other items. To understand the commissary process while in prison and ensure your loved ones know how to put money into your account, contact a prison and sentencing consulting, research and investigation firm. Knowing what items to purchase and in what priority ahead of time is invaluable.

Inmates will usually get the opportunity to spend some of their personal funds on commissary items. In many cases, commissary items end up being a form of currency while you are in prison. These funds, also called trust funds, are also used for music purchases, video chats, if available, and phone calls.

Commissary Process in Prison

While in prison, you will be provided basic meals, limited clothing, and possibly some personal care items. You will be allowed to use your trust fund to purchase additional supplies from the prison commissary. Inmates are only allowed to spend a certain amount of money at each commissary visit per month. As such, you will need to prioritize what items you need each time.

In many cases, commissary visits mean submitting your orders from a list of goods available ahead of time, and standing in line at a commissary window. 

Commissary lists often include items that are not available. For instance, fans and 

sunscreen probably won’t be available in summer, so plan ahead. What may or may not be available includes:

Hygiene itemsAspirinCereal
Lotion/skin careMidolCandy
Hair careCold medicineRamen
ConditionerMP3 playersCondiments
MakeupBook lightsRice
Hair dyeFansSweetener
Dental itemsCookies and crackersUnderwear, sweatpants, sweatshirts, and shorts

If you need specialty items, such as sneakers, you will likely need an authorization request form. Once the item becomes available, then you may purchase it, however you will need to consider, given your commissary limit, what items you may need to get another time. Prison food is notoriously awful (though each prison will vary depending on the chefs), making the ability to afford commissary incredibly important. 

The process for a friend or family member to deposit money into an inmate’s commissary account will depend on the specific prison they are serving in.  Many prisons have mail options in which you can simply mail a money order, but several prisons also offer electronic options, so people can use websites, such as JPay and Western Union, to put money into an account using a debit or credit card.

Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Consultation With a Prison and Sentencing Consulting, Research and Investigation Firm

Do you have concerns about commissary while in a state or federal prison? Liberty Advisors LLC can work with you to help you understand the commissary process and learn how to prioritize purchasing items.

Our team not only has experience serving time in prisons but understands how to effectively work within prison systems so you can get permission to buy every single thing your heart desires. Call (917) 540-6192 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation so we can sit down with you and go over everything you are dealing with now and will be facing when you go to prison.


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