Friday, December 26, 2008

Survey of prices at prison commissary

At their Dec. 17th meeting, County Commissioners Scott Martin assured a member of the audience that the new vendor’s prices for the prisoners’ commissary are comparable with those at Walgreen's and other local merchants.

NewsLanc obtained a list of the prices charged prisoners for their sundry items and arranged for comparisons at local stores.

Most prices charged do not seem to be unreasonable. Some of the prices are less than the prices at other local public institutions. For example, items 1204, 1205 and 1208, priced at $.65 to inmates, are priced at $.75 in the vending machine of a local government break room.

Inmates must pay $1.05 for most of the candy bars. Local convenience stores and pharmacies are charging $.80 to about $1.00.

Some of the personal hygiene items are far more expensive at the prison. For example, Vo5 shampoo costs an inmate $4.05 but can be purchased at Rite Aid for $1.29. Both are 15 oz. bottles.

It is difficult to compare prices of food items since the price list does not indicate brand names or quantities. The price for a six packs of donuts is similar to what is charged at Turkey Hill or Sheetz.

The county will receive 37% of revenue from the sale of sundries. In turn, the money is contributed to an inmate fund for the purchase of items to benefit the prison population.