Revealed: Hidden costs of incarceration burden inmates’ families

Editor’s note: While this blog follows Gideon Walletsky’s time in prison, it’s important to remember that many of his experiences are shared by thousands of inmates across the United States. From time to time, Gideon’s stories will serve as a starting point in examining larger issues in America’s prison system. This installment of Revealed takes a look at the hidden costs of incarceration.

Most people assume inmates get many things—for example, food and personal supplies—for “free,” but that’s not always the case. Yes, inmates’ basic necessities are provided by the prison system, but their families are expected to pay for an array of items related to their care. Continue reading


Hotel monkey washer: Gideon’s stay with a gang leader

Gideon was puzzled when a guard he didn’t know suddenly forced him to move into a new cell without explanation on April 7, a Friday. It was true that he had filled out paperwork to move in with a friend, but he was assigned to a completely different cell with a completely different celly. The worst part: The move broke up a cell of two monkey washers (gang leaders), and Gideon was now forced to live with the Gangster Disciples’ second-in-command. Continue reading

Gideon Walletsky: convict, lifer, and … purse-maker?

When Gideon called his daughter, Naomi, to ask for $25 recently, she naturally assumed the worst. She just knew he needed money for his recurring drug habits, but that wasn’t the case. This time, something wonderful and exciting had happened: Gideon had been given the chance to work in the prison’s leather shop, where inmates make products like purses, belts, and even gun holsters. Continue reading