Comissary is the prison store and one of the prison’s main sources of income. Want a $0.30 plastic cup? That will run you $3.00 in here, but you don’t have a choice. Much like the coal mining towns of old.
Books refers to your available funds. For phone and email access, comissary, and any fines the prison decides to impose on you (damaged clothes, bedding, medical visits, etc). It’s basically a bank account.
If you have the misfortune of being sent to prison make sure someone, anyone, puts money on your books – day one. You won’t be able to call, email, or send letters to ask for money without first having money. That is, unless you want to be indebted to someone – which you don’t.
Here’s that I recommend you get right away.
- cup – there may be water fountains in your unit but they will be broken and/or dirty. Which leaves you with two options, either drink 3 times a day at the caffeteria or get a cup and drink faucet water. Or, if you’re lucky like me, we have an ice machine and filtered hot water dispensers.
- Deoderant – pretty straight forward, you don’t want people to hate you in here. Also, if the prison does give you the free stuff, it doesn’t work – people use it as glue
- Bowl and utensils – you will get hungry and you will miss meals either because you sleep in or because you’re called to another obligation such as orientation, work, school, etc.
- Ramen – your bowl is useless without food and ramen is the cheapest most versatile thing in here. Especially in a pinch.
- Toe nail clippers – you can use them for your fingernails too, if you must. I didn’t have any until my 11th day in here and it was miserable
- Stamps – Just in case you need to reach someone and other forms of communication are shut off (like now, for me) you’ll want these on hand for emergencies
- socks – At this point, you’ll live, maybe not comfortably but you’ll manage. Socks though, if you can get them are truly a god send. Prison issued socks come in one size so they’re always too big or too small.