Prison Diary: Real Money

Like I've said, I'm fascinated by the prison economy.

Many men have money deposited by friends and family into their commissary account, which allows them to buy food and other items, from shoes to fans.

Without actual money, a make-shift economy emerges in the prison and main currency of this economy are stamps.

Forever stamps cost 49¢, and I've inquired about their actual purchasing power in the prison. Are stamps affected by inflation or deflation? Do they purchase 49¢ of goods from the commissary, or less? I feel there's a doctoral dissertation out there waiting to be written about prison stamp currency.  

But here's the interesting thing about the prison economy. While stamps are the currency, when the inmates talk about "real money" they aren't talking about dollar bills or stamps.

"Real money" in the prison is food.

Food is "real money," the most valuable thing you can trade in the prison economy.

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