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Saturday, 2 March 2013

TDCJ/eComm Direct care packages - chocolate teapots?

For weeks now I have been looking at the eComm Direct website to see if there was anything I could purchase for my husband. He doesn't eat a lot of junk food, and I was hoping to just get a few things that he would normally get for himself. One of those things is coffee.

Americans drink a lot of coffee. TDCJ inmates drink a lot of it too. I thought maybe that was why the eComm site never has any available, that it just kept selling out too fast for me to see it. Imagine my surprise then to be told on a forum a few weeks back by someone who claims to work for TDCJ, that they would not order extra supplies of coffee to be delivered to the unit commissary stores "because it might go stale". We're not talking premium freshly ground coffee beans here folks, the coffee available to inmates is your average cheap and cheerful instant stuff, sometimes freeze-dried and sometimes powdered. I took a look at my jar of coffee in the kitchen; the best before date is 2 years from now. That person was seriously trying to tell me that TDCJ thought they might not sell the coffee they had ordered within 2 years.

Another of the items that seems to be missing for no good reason is deodorant. Apparently it is a very scarce commodity at many TDCJ units at the moment. OK so it's not a food item, and it's not essential to life, but how much more dignity can a system deliberately remove from an individual? Yes you can have your visits but you're going to smell and your family might think twice about visiting again..... I can see the mindset of TDCJ at work here.

I was talking to a friend who has penpals in other US states a while ago, and mentioned that TDCJ has a care package programme now. She asked what kind of things we could buy and I told her only what is already available to the inmates through commissary. Her response, "What's the point of that?" Honestly, I don't know what the point is, besides dividing inmates into those who have people on the outside purchasing for them and those who don't. I've wondered if it might be a way of TDCJ to electronically gather information about who is interacting with the inmates, and possibly electronically take a portion of deposits before they reach the inmate, but TDCJ isn't usually that up to date.

The comments I've had on previous posts on this blog relating to the eComm system seem to be as dissatisfied with the "service" as we are. Hubby has told me not to bother with it, simply because if his commissary is out of stock by the time his order comes to be filled, he wont get what I've asked for anyway and is unlikely to want something I haven't ordered.

But what really gets me is the sheep mentality out there of people who say we should be thankful that we now have this service. They say we shouldn't complain in case there are retaliations again the inmates, or that a second-rate service that looks like it was designed 20 years ago might be withdrawn. I'm not going to be thankful for something that is as useful as a chocolate teapot.