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Bristol County Sheriff’s Office lowering commissary prices for inmates, issuing shower sandals



Photo courtesy of Bristol County Sheriff's Office

DARTMOUTH – The Bristol County Sheriff’s Office is lowering commissary prices for inmates and providing shower sandals to inmates at time of admission.

Under an agreement reached between Bristol County Sheriff Paul Heroux and the Keefe Commissary Network, the BCSO’s vendor for inmate goods, those incarcerated in Bristol County will pay less for optional clothing, snacks, toiletries and other items.

The changes will go into effect in mid-July.

“One of the big complaints I heard about before I became Sheriff and after elected was the high mark-up on commissary items. Families and sometimes friends send money to an inmate’s account, and therefore, they are the ones bearing the burden of this commission,” Sheriff Heroux said.

Previously, an additional 31.75% was added to the cost of the commissary items. Starting in mid-July, the mark will be lowered to 20% with commissions continuing to be earmarked for inmate services.

The drop in markup means inmates will pay about 12% less for commissary goods.

Funds generated must be used on inmates; in other words, per state law, the BCSO cannot use it for salaries or vehicles that inmates do not directly use.

“I heard it over and over again on the campaign trail talking to folks around Bristol County that the commissary prices were too high,” Sheriff Heroux said. “Inmates echoed that when I got here and started meeting with them to hear their concerns. So I hope this drop in prices will ease the burden on them and their families.”

The Bristol County Sheriff’s Office stated that upon arriving at a Bristol County correctional facility, inmates are given the basic necessities, such as clothing, socks, shoes, soap, under garments, toothpaste and more. Should they want better sneakers, clothing, shampoo or other items, they have the option to buy from commissary every week. The commissary system also has a large variety of snacks and drinks, should inmates want more than the three meals a day provided by the BCSO.

There are more than 300 items available for inmates to purchase, and they are similar to what one could find at a local store. Some examples of the price differences on every-day items include a 2-pack of ibuprofen (65 cents to 57 cents), a pair of tube socks ($1.90 to $1.68), a 7-ounce container of Cheez-It crackers ($4.60 to $4.06), Reebok running shoes ($65 to $57.36), a 2.5-ounce tube of Colgate toothpaste ($2.80 to $2.47), and a large pair of sweatpants ($12 to $10.59).

Sheriff Heroux said he was surprised when he found out inmates were not issued shower sandals upon admission.

“When I found out on Friday morning, June 23, that we were not issuing shower sandals to inmates but making them purchase sandals from commissary, I was shocked. That was unconscionable,” Sheriff Heroux said. “Monday morning, I directed the CFO to start looking into using commissary revenue to add shower sandals to the standard goods issued to inmates at time of admission, and to figure out how long it will take to order shower sandals for all current inmates. It will be done in about 30 days.”

According to the BCSO, the cost of providing sandals does not fall on the taxpayers because it will come from commission generated from inmate commissary purchases.

“The BCSO commissary program has an accumulated balance of roughly $1.5 million. This was generated, and remained unspent on inmate good, over numerous years. I am doing things differently,” Sheriff Heroux said. “Getting away from needlessly ‘sticking it’ to the inmates is not only consistent with how most Americans want to rehabilitate inmates and the Eighth Amendment, it is in the best interest of the security staff who work with inmates every day.”

Sheriff Heroux delivered the news directly to inmates in Dartmouth on Thursday, meeting with groups of inmates in their housing unit and in the outdoor recreation area to tell them about the reduction in commissary prices, that shower sandals will be provided at time of admission, and hear other concerns.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Fed Up

    June 30, 2023 at 2:22 pm

    Yeah sucks when you lose your freedom. Here’s an idea don’t do anything to get locked up and that’s a problem you wont have to worry about.

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