Why Inflation Price Hikes Are Even Worse Behind Bars


In 2022, incarcerated people are paying between four and 80 percent more per bar of soap than the previous year, depending on where they are incarcerated. 

The Marshall Project reviewed commissary prices from 26 state prison departments in 2022, finding that prices for food and hygiene products have soared across prisons due to the lack of regulation on commissary markups nationwide  Major food companies blame inflation for price hikes. Still, prison suppliers have experienced record profits. Even though the Department of Corrections (DOC) costs stayed the same, they raised prices for commissary items, thus profiting from the markups. Incarcerated people earn up to 52 cents an hour, and as prices for goods increase, they find it challenging to meet their basic needs and often go without them.

You can read the full text here

Key Findings:

  • In 2022, commissary prices increased by nearly 27 percent across the entire prison system in Pennsylvania. 
  • Across all state prisons, a jar of peanut butter costs between 25 and 35 percent more than the previous year.
  • Aramark, a prison supplier, reported $16 billion in revenue in 2022, a 35% increase from 2021 and the highest income ever recorded by the company. 
Alexandra Arriaga
Marshall Project