DiSSE, short for Directory of Inmate Shopping Services E-Commerce, promotes itself as “America’s largest inmate shopping guide.” Edited by George Kayer, currently on death row in Arizona, DiSSE is a compilation of companies, organizations and individuals who do business with and/or provide paid services to prisoners. The publication is updated periodically, although precisely how often is unclear; this review is of DiSSE’s holiday edition with a publication date of October 30, 2010. PLN has received more recent copies since this review was written.
For $12.98, DiSSE provides not only lists of companies but also reviews and ratings of those companies. The reviews are by Kayer himself, which, depending on your point of view, is either the strength or the weakness of DiSSE. The impression of this reviewer is that Kayer is a convict with integrity who is trying to make a buck, under extremely difficult circumstances, while at the same time providing a legitimate and useful service to other prisoners.
The holiday edition of DiSSE was 166 pages. It included lists for those interested in developing their writing skills or publishing books, pen pal services and websites, hobby and craft hookups, art info, sports journals, contests (over 50 with cash prizes totaling more than $20,000 for fiction, nonfiction, poems and screenplays), “motor head” magazines, and other businesses (over 350) organized into 89 categories, ranging from legal services to gift services, education to music, personal assistants to magazines for prisoners.
Sprinkled throughout DiSSE are photos of scantily clad women – enticements to purchase a catalog of fantasy photos from a company that uses DiSSE to promote its products. Indeed, DiSSE offers any business that markets to prisoners – as well as any prisoner with a “hustle” – the opportunity to place classified ads in each issue.
Kayer gives Prison Legal News a 10+ rating. He is frank and forthright in his reviews; to borrow a popular baseball expression, he calls ‘em as he sees ‘em – and for that, at least to the extent that his opinions are reflective of other prisoners’ assessments generally, he is to be commended.
In this reviewer’s eyes, however, DiSSE has a ways to go before it is worthy of a “10” rating itself. Most of Kayer’s reviews are handwritten, not typeset, for example. Also, there are too many typos. Lastly the organization of the directory is somewhat difficult to navigate. One hopes that these shortcomings will be corrected in future editions, as DiSSE is an excellent resource for prisoners.
DiSSE can be ordered by contacting: Tia Tormen Productions, P.O. Box 8069, Pittsburgh, PA 15216. The book is also available from other sources, including Amazon.com. A more recent edition, dated May 7, 2011, is currently available for $12.98 plus shipping. Note that prior ordering addresses in Kingman, Arizona and Hillsboro, Oregon are no longer valid.
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