Welcome to the Prison Talk Online Community! Take a Minute and Sign Up Today!

Go Back   Prison Talk > U.S. REGIONAL FORUMS > OREGON > Oregon Prison & Jail Visitation, Phones, Packages & Mail
Register Entertainment FAQ Calendar Mark Forums Read

Oregon Prison & Jail Visitation, Phones, Packages & Mail Topics / Information relating to the Oregon Department of Corrections and local / county Jail visitation, phone calls, mail, inmate care packages, etc.

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-12-2015, 07:50 AM
Grestmit Grestmit is offline
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Eugene Or.
Posts: 16
Thanks: 8
Thanked 11 Times in 6 Posts
Default Question on Commissary in Oregon

I am not sure about the Commissary set up? What exactly is it for and how much should we put into it? If I do at all? I thought the prison system supplies all the things that they need while inside. We are already probably putting to much on the phones. What is the norm for this stuff. We want to help out our son while he is at Santiam Corrections, But we do not want to be going broke doing these things for him. We are not that well off money wise anyway. Any thought on this will help.
Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old 08-12-2015, 11:52 AM
rmc50 rmc50 is offline
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Milpitas, Ca, USA
Posts: 777
Thanks: 97
Thanked 973 Times in 455 Posts

I am not familiar with the Oregon, but I have penpals in various other states and the exact rules are different for each.

But there is one common factor: What the state provides for the inmate would be the absolute bare minimum.

The ability to buy some comfort from the commissary can make the stay a lot more pleasant for the inmate. It would also allow him to write letters.

Some states allow the prisoners to get a job inside the prison and earn some money, but it is a very low amount, usually between $15 and $20 a MONTH. The prices that they have to pay for items are comparable to what you might pay yourself, so you can see that $15 a month won't go very far.

What he can purchase from the commissary varies greatly between states. Some states allow the purchase of fans, radios, and other "luxury" items. Other states don't permit much of anything beyond toiletries. Most will allow the purchase of food/snacks, which many inmates report being the only thing that would keep them alive due to how bad the prison food is.

Some states require the inmates to purchase any replacement clothes they might need.

I am sure that your son will tell you what he needs. Be skeptical of his claims, but keep in mind what I said above. If he is asking for hundreds of dollars a month, hold back. If he is asking for $20 a month, consider giving it to him.

I looked up the facility, and found this for information on how to get money to him:


You can send him money via electronic means or by sending a money order/cashiers check. They will NOT accept a personal check. If money is tight and you can get a money order free (or at least inexpensively) from your bank, that might be the best way to go. Note that it can take weeks before the money is available to him that way.

I have used Jpay to send funds. The fee that Jpay charges can be significant, but it is very convenient and he will get the money very quickly, usually within a day.

The prison may also allow sending "gift boxes" from an approved vendor. Your son should be able to get the information you need and send it to you. The gift boxes are a great way of sending love, especially on holidays and his birthday.

Good luck!

R. Mc.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-12-2015, 02:01 PM
aliahnamarie2 aliahnamarie2 is offline
Registered User

Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Washington, USA
Posts: 36
Thanks: 6
Thanked 22 Times in 15 Posts

Hi there,

Like rmc50 posted, commissary is used to purchase items that are not available for free through the prison. The prison supplies only the bare minimum, and only the amount of toiletries and envelopes that they deem necessary. The inmates who do not get money put on their commissary accounts to buy things for themselves are given the "indigent" package. This includes the very bare essentials (soap, toothbrush & toothpaste, some paper and a couple envelopes) and I believe it doesn't even include some things most people would consider essential, such as deodorant.

If your son was in county jail and you put money on his books there, the prices in prison are MUCH LOWER than in county. The prices for food items are comparable to those on the outside. The only things that are considerably more expensive are the higher ticket items; tv's, mp4 players, shoes, etc. Those aren't essentials, but they do make their time much easier depending on the facility. Since your son is at a minimum facility and likely will be out within the near future, he may not need a TV or any of the bigger ticket items.

Oregon does NOT allow care packages to be sent in. Even during the holidays.

It sometimes takes them a while to get used to how much commissary money they will go through in a time period. It took us a few months to get an idea of how much he'd need, depending on how bad the food was that day or how much he wanted something sweet to eat. I use GettingOut.com (same website you do the phone accounts on) to put money on his trust/commissary account, but there is a flat fee of $4.50 and it sometimes takes a couple days to show up. There is also a limit of $300 you can put on there per day.

Let me know if you have any more questions! I'm sorry you're in this situation.
Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to aliahnamarie2 For This Useful Post:
sabihondo (07-13-2016), TLAn4ever (08-12-2015)
Old 08-13-2015, 05:57 AM
GingerM's Avatar
GingerM GingerM is online now
Super Moderator

PTO Super Moderator Staff Superstar Award 

Donation Award 

Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 5,452
Thanks: 7,165
Thanked 7,837 Times in 3,083 Posts

If the inmate has a job (required by Oregon law - all inmates in Oregon prisons must have a job unless they are incapable of holding one due to physical or mental health issues), he will have some money. As others have said, "some" is not much, about $35/month.

From this $35/month, the inmate must purchase all toiletries they need. There is an indigent fund that will supply toiletries if the inmate has no money. The indigent toiletries are the cheapest the state can get, so they are not high quality.

Toiletries the inmate must purchase (if able) consist of:
soap, shampoo, razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs, deoderant etc. These are roughly the size of that could be legally carried onto an airplane, so they don't last long.

There are also food items which can be purchased, most of it being junk food. Many inmates buy the "mackerel in foil" (smells like cat food, and doesn't look much different either) as often the protein available in the chow hall isn't very edible. That said, from what I understand, the food in chow, while not exactly 5-star is far better than what they have in county jails and isn't nearly as bad as many other states (especially those with privately run prison systems). My dad kept crackers, peanut butter, mackerel and some nuts in his cell so that if he missed chow (it can happen) or if the food was particularly bad that day, he could eat in his cell. Some inmates live almost exclusively off of what they can fix in their cells.

Stationery items include paper, envelopes, postcards, writing utensils, and various cards (birthday, christmas etc). These, again, must be purchased by the inmate if the inmate has funds.

All inmates are provided with the bare necessities of clothing. The shoes are horrid, the socks are very thin and scratchy. The following clothing items are sold through the commissary: socks, underwear, shoes ($100 - $150 or so per pair, unless they're a difficult to find size in which case add another $50 - $100), gym shorts, outdoor coats (not terribly warm, more of a jacket than coat), hoodie sweatshirts, knitted hats (for cold weather), rain ponchos (not worth the money, they're those cheap clear plastic garbage-bag style ponchos that you can buy for a buck).

Entertainment items: this includes mp3 player (necessary if you want to be able to email with him, tho' right now the email system isn't working as intended and is unreliable), headphones (actually pretty decent quality. When my dad died, his property was sent to me and I still use his headphones), radio, television (incentive item), guitar, guitar cases, and there's even a way to rent a playstation/games though that's a complete waste of money in my opinion.

So he probably will need money on his books, especially when he first gets there. His initial expenses are probably going to run around $200 - $300. The things that will be most useful to him initially are: shoes, headphones, earplugs, radio. Depending on how much time he spent in county, he may already be eligible for a TV, in which case, a TV is actually more important than it sounds to us outside the fence. To listen to the TV, he'll have to have headphones as the TV's don't have external speakers of any sort.

After the initial outlay of money, my dad spent about $30/month in a normal month. Once a year or so, he'd buy a new pair of shoes. They also charge the inmate for eye glasses, so once a year he'd have to buy new glasses (my dad was in his 70's).

I didn't put money on his books unless he asked me to. I trusted him to let me know when he needed money, and he would usually ask for it before some big expense.

A word of caution: Commissary items are purchased by filling out an order form one week, then picking up a brown paper bag the following week that has a receipt attached to it. He needs to keep EVERY receipt - if he can't prove he bought something, the guards can accuse him of stealing it and not only take the item away, but sent him to the hole. ALSO - the receipt will show how much money he has remaining in his commissary account (he'll get a monthly statement as well). This means other inmates can see how much money he has remaining on his account. If he has "too much" money sitting on his books, he'll become a target for various schemes to part him from his money (both by other inmates and by prison staff). He shouldn't carry more than about $200 on his commissary account at any given time unless he knows he's about to spend it. Not only can HE become a target, but YOU can become a target as well. It's expected that inmate balances will increase around the holidays as friends/family put money on their books for the Christmas commissary list (which comes out around Thanksgiving and includes things that can't be purchased during the remainder of the year), but outside of the holiday season, he'll want to keep his balance down to a reasonable rate.

The commissary accounts are the only place an inmate can have anything resembling money. Postage stamps aren't even sold (the envelopes are pre-postage paid). Due to this, DoC, due to rules by the FTC, is required to pay them interest. They earn somewhere around 6% interest on their account, which is more than many CD's and definitely more than a passbook savings account. Which is not to say that it's a good investment instrument - see above about carrying "too much" money on his books.

Probably more than you wanted to know, but all of it worth knowing.
Reply With Quote
The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to GingerM For This Useful Post:
aftershock23 (08-29-2017), Nomes (11-10-2015), sabihondo (07-13-2016), TLAn4ever (08-13-2015)
Old 08-29-2017, 09:28 AM
aftershock23's Avatar
aftershock23 aftershock23 is offline
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Canada
Posts: 5
Thanks: 1
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

Does anyone know where I can find or get a hold of a commissary list for TRCI? I've found a few lists online but does not explicitly say TRCI like some of the other prisons in Oregon.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2017, 11:51 AM
Mrs_Tudor Mrs_Tudor is offline
Account Closed

Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Germany
Posts: 389
Thanks: 13
Thanked 54 Times in 32 Posts

I think there is no need to give more explanation on what they can purchase and what they might need.
An important note is for you to understand the difference between the three options you have:

Friends & Family Account: Account where you put money on to ensure that he can call the number registered to that account for free. Once money is on that account, he can't use it to call anyone else but only your approved number.

Inmate Account: Money made available for him to use the phone (call whoever he wants), messaging, pay for video visits, upload photos etc. Everything that goes along with the online Telmate services.

Trust/Commissary: Money to be used at the canteen to buy extra food, vitamins, toiletries, paper, pens and envelopes, or to purchase songs for his mp3 player (if he has any).

He has the capability to move money from the Trust/Commissary to the phone account. It does NOT work the other way round! If you put money on his phone account, it stays there and can't be moved or used any other way. Money on your friends & family account and the inmate account are free of charge.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2017, 08:27 PM
GingerM's Avatar
GingerM GingerM is online now
Super Moderator

PTO Super Moderator Staff Superstar Award 

Donation Award 

Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 5,452
Thanks: 7,165
Thanked 7,837 Times in 3,083 Posts

Does anyone know where I can find or get a hold of a commissary list for TRCI? I've found a few lists online but does not explicitly say TRCI like some of the other prisons in Oregon.
There are two lists: one covers the West-of-the-Cascades institutions (including the Women's prison), the over covers the East-of-the-Cascades institutions. They're pretty much identical except that the west-side lists include things only women generally need (aka feminine hygiene products).

Are you wondering about the cost of something in particular, or just wondering what's available to inmates through the commissary? I might be able to get you an answer to either of those questions if I know what you're trying to find out.
Reply With Quote
Old 08-29-2017, 08:57 PM
Kimimi Kimimi is offline
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: OR USA
Posts: 398
Thanks: 322
Thanked 617 Times in 260 Posts

im in Oregon and so is he. The food they get is crap all carbs very little protein. They have protein powder on the list that is good to keep their protein up it is hard to do I there. It's also good for him to have a stash in case of lock down, when they get a sack lunch. You can google Oregon DOC being sued for feeding inmates food unfit for human consumption. Since this hit the news I hear the food is better but they are getting smaller amounts. I wouldn't leave one of my loved ones at the mercy of the DOC because all they are gonna get is what is necessary to keep them alive. It's a very frustrating situation and I'm sure it is the same all over the country.
Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Kimimi For This Useful Post:
GingerM (08-30-2017)


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Telmate Raised Fee's on Commissary Deposits for Oregon aliahnamarie2 Oregon Prison & Jail Visitation, Phones, Packages & Mail 4 12-17-2015 06:58 AM
2015 Holiday Commissary List for Oregon DOC charliesangel4 Oregon Prison & Jail Visitation, Phones, Packages & Mail 1 12-11-2015 06:03 PM
Commissary and Christmas List 2014 Oregon Prisons saskatchewanian Oregon General Prison Talk, Introductions & Chit Chat 0 12-10-2014 10:22 AM
Oregon Prisons Commissary List? eirunn Oregon General Prison Talk, Introductions & Chit Chat 2 03-12-2014 06:54 PM
Does Oregon D.O.C. have indigent commissary? nothingisttrue Oregon Prison & Jail Visitation, Phones, Packages & Mail 1 10-12-2011 03:38 AM

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:50 AM.
Copyright © 2001- 2017 Prison Talk Online
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Website Design & Custom vBulletin Skins by: Relivo Media
Message Board Statistics