Thursday, August 15, 2013

Top 5 Most Surprising and Cool Things Prisoners Get to Have in Prison

While some county jails may be as depicted in the photo accompanying this post, prisons are not necessarily as spartan as they are depicted in the popular media. Inmates at both the state and federal levels have access to many things that -- to me, as both a citizen and inmate -- were surprising. Below is an article from that lists the five things I am most surprised about.

The United States incarcerates more people than any other country on the planet. Such a large prison population represents a serious market for companies that supply correctional facilities' commissaries, such as St. Louis-based Keefe Group. Between inmates' basic rights to certain comfort items and contractors lobbying to get more products into facilities, prisoners have access to a surprising array of amenities.

5 Food Selection

At every level of incarceration, from federal prison to county jail, inmates with enough money "on their books" can eschew facility food for fare purchased through the commissary. While most of the selections consist of mundane junk food like chips and candy, or staples such as peanut butter and Ramen noodles, some of the food available in prison commissaries is downright surprising. Sriracha sauce and yellowfin tuna in Thai chili sauce, anyone? Or perhaps you're in the mood for pizza tonight. Just pick up a pizza kit with crusts and sauce, add a little white meat chicken, some cheese, olives, jalapeƱo peppers... and kick it up with the onion you pocketed from the kitchen: Prison pizza paradise!

4 Video Game Consoles

Inmates in states like Maryland and Wisconsin can purchase video game consoles—which they can hook up to their personal flat-screen TVs—and lose themselves in a virtual reality that is considerably different from the reality in which they're living. Game choices are typically limited to nonviolent, non-explicit titles. Facilities will also cap the number of individual games an inmate can have in his possession.

3 Typewriters

A typewriter is a surprising inmate amenity not only because prisoners in many non-federal facilities can have one but also because such an anachronistic machine is still available for purchase—anywhere. Courts have held that inmates must be allowed access to typewriters in order to create legal documents. However, the image of an inmate in her cell, hunched over a Smith-Corona, clacking away like a '40s newspaper reporter, is a startling one.... 

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