UNDERSTANDING NEW CHRISTIANS IN PRISON

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$50 to $100 per month, but they are few and far between. Usually it takes several years to be able to qualify for such a job.

Believe it or not, inmates also have bills! A major bill is the laundry bill. Although the State does provide for this service free of charge, it is inmates who run it. So an inmate can have his laundry done with the general cleaning, but most of the time it will get “generally” cleaned! The inmates that run the laundry will charge a small fee per month of $3-5.00 to have an inmate’s laundry personally cleaned. That way his laundry is properly cleaned every time he puts it in the wash.

Another month bill is the barber! Again, the State does provide for this service, but it is also run by inmates. The “customer” has a choice: to get a haircut that looks good or one that doesn’t. To look decent, it costs $3-5 per month. Likewise, cosmetics usually cost $7-10 per month on top of the other expenses. So personal needs total $15-20 per month. After receiving pay of only $30 per month, that doesn’t leave much for anything else.

To continue, let’s take a moment to run down through an average list of items generally ordered once a month. This will help give a basic idea of the bear amount of money needed for your friend or loved one in prison. The two biggest items needed are envelopes (stamped envelopes) and coffee. $4-8 in stamps is needed to send out letters. Coffee costs around $2 a bag and a bag will last a week or so. Granted, coffee is not a necessity so you might just be saying, “Well, he just won’t drink coffee”. Other than water, there is nothing given to inmates for free except at meal time when he can have a cup of pop or milk. After eating and drinking the same things day in and day out, coffee helps break the monotony and can be drank in between meals.

Other general items are needed throughout the month as well such as pens, paper, vitamins, aspirin, Q-Tips, batteries, etc. This amount will be around $9 per month making the grand monthly total around $33 per month not including the laundry, barber and cosmetic amounts of $15 per month. Basic needs total around $48 per month. Unfortunately, it shows that the average needs cost more than an inmate’s income.

To make things worse, as mentioned before, there are individuals called store men. Store men are inmates who will buy extra items from the inmate store when it is open every two weeks and then turn around and resell the items at a premium when the store is closed. The mark up is as much as 100% therefore doubling the price of the item. The store man allows inmates to buy on credit which must be paid on the next store day or on the next pay day. These loans add up quickly. If an inmate does not watch his budget or have good financial skills, he will find himself getting caught up in a cycle of owing more than he gets paid. Then he will always be in the store man’s “pocket”.

The inmate store is only open once every two weeks. Ordered items are put on the store list and will be in the store sometime the week it opens. An inmate only knows what he has to spend in his account during the State payroll week. When money is sent from

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