The prison economy has two distinct bases: "outside" finance and "inside" finance. In this post, we'll take a look at the former. I'll follow up with a look at the inside economics of prison camp in my next entry.
Where Does It Start?
The prison economy has to start somewhere, and for all intents and purposes, it begins with our family and friends. You all "put money on our books" -- i.e., make a deposit in our Bureau of Prisons (BoP) inmate trust account -- by sending a money order or wiring funds to the BoP lockbox facility in Des Moines. After it's processed, the funds are then available to us: for use at the commissary; to purchase educational or craft materials; to downloand songs for MP3 players; for medical or dental co-pays; or, in large chunks, to make payments toward fines, criminal restitution and child support. Most importantly, for many, the funds were used to pay for phone calls and email minutes.