Kentucky prisons are required by law to provide 2,400 calories of meals per day to inmates. There is no law requiring prisons to provide additional commissary services.
Daviess County Jailer Art Maglinger said the jail has a commissary because state law allows a portion of the commissary’s income to be used for security improvements, equipment for work crews and certain recreational purposes. , such as paying the cable TV bill in prison. Having a commissary also helps control the inmate’s behavior, somewhat.
Kellwell Commissary Services sets the prices, according to Maglinger.
“I have an interest in keeping prices short,” Maglinger said in an interview last week. “It’s important to me it’s reasonable.
“I know that the commissary provider, and the tech provider, are on it for profit. The prison also has a contract with a company that provides phone, email and video visiting services. We benefited (from commissary sales). ), but the money must be spent to benefit the inmates. ”
The Messenger-Inquirer recently received a letter from someone who spent time in prison, saying that inmates were forced to add their food to commissary items because inmates could not be provided and adequate food through food service.
Maglinger said the 2,400 -calorie -per -day requirement is enforced by prison inspections, which occur twice a year. The prison also has a dietician on medical staff, and the food administrator monitors the prison’s food workers, to make sure they are served adequate portions, according to Maglinger.
“They are given meals whether they order at the commissary or not,” Maglinger said. Kellwell Food Management provides prison food service. When asked about related companies that provide food services and commissary, Maglinger said Kellwell’s commissary prices are better than some competing companies.
“They have a wide range of new items,” he says, “and the selling prices are usually cheaper across the board.”
The commissary sells food, clothing, common medicines such as cough, multivitamins and antibiotic ointment, hygiene items such as soap, toothpaste and deodorant and snacks. There are over 300 items on the commissary’s list, and prices vary.
For example, a 20-ounce soft drink costs $ 2.29, a 7.5-ounce serving of beef stew costs $ 3.29, a bowl of Frosted Flakes costs $ 1, a large pair of boxer shorts is $ 3.25, a a Butterfinger candy bar is $ 2.29, a two- pack of extra-strong pain reliever for 40 cents, and a bar of Irish Spring soap for $ 1.39. Cheese or pepperoni pizza for $ 15. The prices of some items are higher, depending on the brand.
A percentage of the commissary’s sales will go to the jail canteen account. The prison seized 33% of the sale of food and drink, 12.5% of the sale of non -food and 15% of the sale of “hot carts”, items that are heated using a microwave and carried by pods in a cart. .
State law says canteen account funds can be used “to improve safety and security within the prison,” say surveillance cameras. The funds will also be used “for the benefit and to improve the welfare of prisoners.”
“Maybe they didn’t want us to use it for spying, but they kept it safe,” Maglinger said.
The jail used the funds to purchase items for the inmates ’work crew, planting equipment for the inmate’s garden, board games for the inmates and food for the inmate’s workers. The fund also pays the prison’s cable bill. The inmates also have a television.
“I think these are good things,” Maglinger said. “When I became a jailer, I didn’t think inmates had access to TV.”
But when inmates are not given anything to do, even when attending classes or working with a crew or making mattresses or even watching TV, they get distracted, according to Maglinger.
“People in the long run will make their own fun,” he said.
Inmates will receive some items to book, such as uniforms and some hygiene items. When asked if inmates should use the commissary when they run out of hygiene items, Maglinger said deputy jailers keep stock of such items and provide them upon request, after determining that they are absolutely necessary. to the prisoner the matter.
Inmates who are considered poor – who have not bought commissary for seven days and have less than $ 1 in their accounts – can receive an “indigent kit” each week with a variety of hygiene items. The cost of the kits, which ranged from $ 2.25 to $ 3, was charged to the inmate’s account.
Inmates with unpaid prison costs may have half of the commissary account deposits available at the prison. Maglinger said the prison collects about $ 500,000 in inmate fees each year.
The Commissary is a service for inmates, Maglinger said.
“I find it positive, for inmates and families,” he said. “but it’s not something they’re entitled to.”
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, [email protected], Twitter: @JamesMayse