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From the Editor

by Paul Wright

The financial exploitation of prisoners and their family is nothing new for readers of PLN. In the 34 years we have been publishing we have seen it spread across pretty much every interaction prisoners have with the outside world. But perhaps the longest running form of exploitation in American prisons and jails is the commissary or canteen where facilities allow prisoners to obtain food, snacks, televisions, hygiene items and basic necessities but only from what was historically the prison itself and increasingly the for-profit commissary companies that provide the products and give a kickback to the facility in exchange for the monopoly service.

The mark ups and price gouging by prison commissaries tends to be of epic proportions and prisoners are paying prices for basic items that no one else in America is paying. PLN readers often send us commissary price lists which readily make this point. Across American society the mantra for decades has been that deregulation and competition lowers costs for consumers and makes businesses more efficient and therefore cheaper for their customers. The prisoner exploitation industry has not gotten that memo yet. Instead, these monopolies, whether run directly by the government or by their corporate collaborators, only serve to increase their profits at the expense of their erstwhile customers, who are deprived of any consumer choice.

This month’s cover story by David Reutter is the latest chapter exploring the prison commissary industry. While specific to Florida it can easily be any prison or jail system in the country. As we have reported in prior issues, while the costs of basic goods sold to prisoners have increased massively over the years, that is not the case with prisoner wages in those states where prisoners are even paid nominal wages for their forced labor.

As 2024 gets underway we have a number of exciting new projects we are working on. This includes two video podcasts. State of the Police State will be focusing on news and developments in policing, prisons, jails and surveillance. The Wages of Sin will feature interviews with relatively successful criminals who have made crime pay. It is the anti-thesis of the “copaganda” that currently defines the true crime genre in this country. Once we launch the shows we will let readers know of their availability and also we will be seeking guests for future shows.

We also have several books in our production line up including updated versions of the diabetes manual, Protecting Your Health and Safety and more! We will publish announcements of the new titles as they are published.

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