Since James has to buy commissary items - usually when the served food is inedible, which is often - we soon figured out that the markup on these items was way over the top. I even heard some guards at Suzanne Kays talk about how bad the commissary markups were; one guard commented that the dry soup mixes cost about six times as much as he'd pay at Wal-Mart. These soup mixes are popular as, when a meal is served with mystery meat, the inmates often dump the meat, take the vegetables from the tray, and mix them with soup mix and hot water.
Curious to find out about the commissary supplier, Keefe, I recently happened upon a Web site called the Private Corrections institute.
As suspected, contracts are often awarded after a nice little kickback is arranged for the city/county officials who are in charge of awarding the contract. Here's an excerpt of the Keefe Commissary Network's "rap sheet":
In 2004, Keefe was found to have charged sales tax on some items that aren't taxable in Texas in connection with a Collin County jail commissary contract. As a result, almost 600 inmates were overcharged more than $5,000, records showed. Because of the error, the Collin County sheriff awarded the contract to a different firm.
Click here to read the Private Corrections Institute's rap sheet on Keefe.