Inside the Strange and Beautiful Box Economy of Women's Prison

Article explaining establishment of consumer product-based economies among inmates and the empowering effects of such markets.

From the Vice article:

Inside a female prison is a consumerist utopia that runs on care boxes. The demand is high, the supply is tight, and the lubricant for this glorious capitalist machine is penpal boyfriends.

I spent roughly six months navigating a county jail (for a felony I'll tell you about some other time), and when the anxiety-driven thought loop of "this can't be happening to me" finally broke, I started to notice my mouth. It never felt clean. The likely culprit was the shitty toothpaste in my Fish Kit. The Fish Kit is a toiletries kit for new inmates known as "new fish" in prison parlance. The kit includes a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, deodorant, and a single, pitiful golf pencil, along with starchy clothes and rubber sandals that I still have nightmares about. In jail, everyone dressed the same, bathed at the same, ate at the same time. "Shopping" meant the standard jail snacks of pork rinds, ramen noodles, and instant coffee available on commissary. Read more.