CA: Gavin Newsom Can Sign a Bill to End Price-Gouging in California Prisons

Source: 9/18/23

California prison canteens currently sell essential items—such as snacks and medication—at a markup of between 65 and 200 percent.
With just one signature, California Governor Gavin Newsom can significantly curtail the state’s long-standing practice of price-gouging imprisoned people for vital items like toothbrushes or deodorant.

Last week, the Basic Affordable Supplies for Incarcerated Californians Act, or the BASIC Act, overwhelmingly passed the state Senate and Assembly. The bill is now with the governor, who has until October 14 to sign it.

If signed into law, the BASIC Act would prohibit commissaries from charging more than a 35 percent markup on what they paid to the vendor that supplied the items. The cap would remain in place from January 1, 2024 until January 1, 2028. At that time, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary would set commissary prices.

“We have to end the egregious and cruel markups on food and hygiene items that are sold in the prisons,” California state Senator Josh Becker, who introduced the bill, told The Appeal.

California prison commissaries typically sell items—including snacks and medication—at a markup of between 65 and 200 percent, according to Becker’s office.

The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, a co-sponsor of the BASIC Act, sent out an action alert Friday urging California residents to contact Newsom and ask him to sign the bill.

Read the full article to see how to contact Newsom


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Screw Gavin. He took Grove’s side on sb 14. He doesn’t give a ____ about us.

[…] this would be great news.

Is ramen considered a snack? Because ramen in a package would cost $0.10 outside of prison, but $1.00 in prison. That’s a 1000% mark up!

The same thing is going on here in AZ. When I was in AZDOC a clear flat screen TV was $250!! My sister found the exact same thing online for $45. They do it because they have a “captive” audience.

I’ve been out for years, but in Michigan prisons the average wage was around 80 cents a day. multiply that by about 20 working days and you have 16 bucks to spend in the store. A pack of Ramen was about a dollar, a bar of soap was a dollar or more, a pouch of Bugler was about 7 bucks. I heard Michigan took tobacco products out of the store about 15 years ago or so.
With these low wages and high commissary prices it was nearly impossible to just buy necessary items like soap, toothpaste, etc. Forget about it if you were a coffee drinker or smoker. You definitely needed an outside support system if you wanted to be a little comfortable. Thankfully, I was an hourly wage earner, working for Michigan State Industries (MSI) at the laundry. I earned around $150 a month and still had my side hustle repairing electronics which gave me on average another $150-$200 a month.

If only he was an upstanding citizen who cared about the marginalized people in his state. He has sold his soul to the devil a long time ago.

What other way is he going to surplus the state budget for BOP or DOJ if he eliminates one way he knows works to do so?

Hmm…. it’s been nearly fifteen years but I don’t remember California state prison canteen prices being all that irrationally high. Perhaps things have changed since then and now, but then mostly I bought things for myself like paper, envelopes, Bic Crystal pens, ramen noodle soups, cold and fizzy sodas, chocolate ice cream, and shampoo. I didn’t eat the soups much but traded them for other, more useful things. But then there was the clever, multi-talented hustler who lived next door to me when I was in reception who had no money on his books. I’d buy him snacks and shampoo at the canteen and he’d pay me in postage stamps, a more than equitable trade. I ended up having so many stamps that I never had to buy them at the canteen or have my family send them. They ended up lasting me more than a year after I paroled even though I was then, and still am, an inveterate snail mail letter writer due to my experience doing it in prison.

The State of California is an incredibly evil state. The bureaucrats and “public servants” hired by California, to “serve” “The People,” are among the most heartless and vile “human beings.”

We see it in how California administers the “sex offender” registry and its Megan’s Law website. We see it in how California overpays police officers, and defends qualified immunity, when a few states have already removed the qualified immunity “right.” California’s “risk assessments” that overtly discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community (Static-99R). California even has the highest tax rate in the country for individuals and businesses. What services do we get in return?

I remember being incarcerated, made to pay for overpriced telephone calls, $20 gas station quality hamburgers from vending machines, and those conflict-of-interested companies that provide “packages” (all co-owned by employees of CDCR).

Many years later, I would find out that a judge who had determined my “sex offender” status would be embroiled in a high-profile corruption scheme herself.

Oh, the irony.

Again, the State of California is an incredibly evil state. Just look at how prison labor is exploited, via slave labor, in California Prison Industry Authority factories. Or how prison and jail labor is exploited, via slave labor, in California fire camps. The scam “courts” and out-of-touch “judges” have ruled that former prison firefighters are barred from pursing careers, after incarnation, as career firefighters, regardless of if they prove rehabilitation.

The State of California is an evil, and fake “liberal,” state.