TDCJ have finally rolled out their new inmate "care package" system that allows friends and family (F&F) to purchase items online from the unit commissary to be delivered to the inmate. Inmates are also allowed to purchase packs of items, such as a hygiene pack or a snack pack, through the usual commissary window. You have to give them points for trying I suppose.If you want to use the service, the URL is https://tdcj-ecommdirect.portal.texas.gov/ but it is only available between 4am and 9pm Texas time.
The charge for F&F purchases is $3.75 for each transaction. Each inmate can receive up to $50 worth of outside purchases per quarter. F&F can also deposit funds into the inmate's trust fund account, for a lower fee per transaction than Jpay charges.
Hubby and I talked about this new system at our visit last weekend. He doesn't like it that I send him money, he would rather be able to earn his own. He enjoys the books I send but has limited space so I try not to send too many. He said he has seen some of the packs and other items that other inmates have bought themselves, and he feels that they are not worth the money. In the snack pack, the only item he said was worth it were some smoked almonds, and he can always acquire those from someone else if he wants some.
So we agreed to watch and wait for now. I'm wary of giving my bank details directly to Texas.gov, and as with all new systems, there will be teething troubles until it all beds down. We may use the money transfer section in the future simply because it is cheaper, but I'm happy enough with Jpay for now.
Of course if F&F could send items through this service that are not available to inmates through commissary, then it might be more attractive. Other states manage to accommodate that. Or if F&F could purchase postage stamps of course because those are the things hubby runs out of most frequently. But TDCJ are obsessed with the idea that inmates would gamble all of their stamps away if they were allowed an unlimited number (as if they don't gamble with everything else they own, and plenty of stuff they don't own too) so I can't see that happening.
I realise that I'm a minority in all of this, but this care package system really isn't much use to us.