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Prisoner Education Guide

Articles by Taylor Elizabeth Eldridge

The Big Business of Prisoner Care Packages: Inside the Booming Market for Food in Pouches

by Taylor Elizabeth Eldridge, The Marshall Project

Ed. Note: PLN’s August 2018 cover story examined prison food and commissary services. This article looks at prison and jail package services supplied by private vendors – some of which, like Keefe, also provide commissary services.

It’s the holiday season, but many incarcerated Americans won’t get presents directly from home.

To stop drugs and weapons from entering jails and prisons, many corrections agencies bar family members from mailing packages or bringing them during visits. Those who want to send food, clothing and other gifts to incarcerated relatives – at any time of year – often must go through private vendors.

Here’s how it works: Families shop from print and online catalogs supplied by care package companies. Every item is prison- and jail-approved. In some facilities, that can mean no glass or metal containers or no personal hygiene products containing alcohol. Items are often contraband-proof, from sealed food pouches to clear electronics to pocketless sweatpants.

For the holidays, families can choose from seasonal products; think red and green cream-filled Hostess cupcakes and peppermint Twinkies. The Los Angeles County jails’ contract for care packages includes annual “gift packs” that are given to prisoners for ...


 

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