Commissary prices: Business, as usual.

As the Durham County Justice Center becomes the focal point of the downtown skyline, consider the public funds that have been used for that building, designed to more efficiently funnel more people–overwhelmingly black and brown men–into its next-door neighbor, the jail, and from there perhaps to state prisons. Does the money for such an important project also cover the very basic necessities which are supposedly provided to inmates? Not exactly. Below is a Durham County Detention Center commissary purchase list. Due to the low quality and nutritional value of food passed out to inmates by Aramark (recently named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies!), supplementary food purchases from the commissary are a near necessity. Similarly, with clothing and cleaning products–“health and beauty” and “general merchandise.” Look at the unit size when looking at the prices, and then consider your recent purchases at Wal-Mart or Dollar Tree. What you see, far from “free room and board” is an opportunity for a company such as Aramark to extract profit at a rather high rate from those who usually can least afford it. Profit is the order of the day, and the jail, far from a “neutral” place, is yet another site where the government allows for income to be redistributed upwards. commissary

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