Texas Prisoners Pool Their Commissary Funds, Donate $53,000 To Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

A group of prisoners in various Texas facilities donated money from their commissary funds to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, and together their efforts contributed $53,000 to the American Red Cross.

As the Dallas Morning News reports, some 6,600 prisoners across the Lone Star State decided to donate from their meager commissary accounts to help out. Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark said the inmates did so on their own, and with no encouragement from their jailers.

“It’s just something they chose to do.”

Some prisoners were only able to chip in a dollar; others gave several hundred. The average donation was $8.

What’s more, while Texas law allows inmates to only spend $95 every two weeks from their commissary accounts, the donations will not count toward the inmates’ spending limits.

For those not familiar with the process, a prison commissary is a system that allows prisoners to purchase goods, such as toiletries, snacks, and so on, from within the prison. Instead of using cash, prisoners are given an account, with money deducted from purchases. Prisoners can add money to their accounts through money earned from in-prison jobs, or from money donated by friends and family on the outside.

Prisoners use their commissary accounts to purchase items such as toothpaste. [Image by AlexandrBognat/Thinkstock]

The damage wrought by Hurricane Harvey across Texas has not spared those within the Department of Corrections. Some 7,000 inmates in multiple facilities were evacuated. What’s more, across the Lone Star State, several DoC employees lost their homes. Probably hundreds if not thousands of inmates had family members affected by the devastation as well.

Besides donating money, according to Fox News, inmates have been working to repair facilities damaged by the storm. Inmate Adam Hernandez described repairing the floor in one building.

“They had us take down sheetrock, and this whole floor was just like dark brown. You couldn’t even see the floor.”

This is not the first time Texas inmates have been moved to help in the aftermath of a hurricane. Back in 2005, when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck Louisiana and Texas, respectively, Texas inmates donated commissary money then as well.

Although prison inmates are often thought of as the worst of society’s people, sometimes their stunning acts of kindness make national news. For example, in June, as CBS News reported at the time, six Georgia inmates saved the life of a guard who had fallen ill. They were rewarded for their efforts by having their sentences reduced.

[Featured Image by Stockbyte/Thinkstock]