How California Jails and Youth Lockups Profit off Incarcerated People & Their Families

In partnership with the Young Women’s Freedom Center and the Children’s Defense Fund of California, the San Francisco Financial Justice Project examined the costs of phone calls in youth lockups across California. Researchers found that a 15-minute phone call can range from $2.40 in Solano County, to $13.65 in San Benito. These high and varying costs create a significant barrier to maintaining the family ties critical for development and reducing recidivism for youth. 

Together, the researchers also conducted a public records request of county contracts between sheriff’s departments and commissary vendors and commissary pricing lists. From that research the authors concluded that California laws allowing counties to use comissaries as profit centers, results in inflated prices for necessities, such as stationary, stamps, soup, coffee, rice and beans, and hygiene items. Like phone calls, the burden of these costs most often negatively impacts low income people of color.

You can access the fact sheets here and here.

The San Francisco Financial Justice Project