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

Advertisements

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

Prison drug dealers hold Gideon’s TV ransom

When Gideon realized he would struggle to pay his most recent drug bill a week ago, he thought he understood the potential consequences. In the past, unpaid debts led to prison drug dealers threatening to stab or beat him, but the dealers took a different approach this time. Instead of threatening violence, they took away his lifeline to the outside world and sole source of entertainment: They confiscated his TV and refused to return it until he paid them. Continue reading

Prison life: sugar mamas, Facebook, and cigarettes

When his friend’s sugar mama didn’t send $25 as expected, Gideon knew it would lead to trouble. Gideon and his friend had been using the sugar mama’s money to buy tobacco, and they already had the latest batch in hand. They knew they would have to pay for it. Continue reading