The holidays are a time when many people look forward to the gift giving season – even prison inmates.
It is not only candy and cookies coming their way, but also watches and televisions are being sent to state inmates serving hard time.
It is called the "Inmate Vendor Package" program. The program was established in 2004 to approve and keep better track of items being sent to inmates serving time in California. The only problem is that many of those inmates are serving time out of state.
"People were trying to send contraband in, and I'm not saying the majority, but it happened on occasion,” said Lieutenant Anthony Carter with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
That is one of the reasons why Carter says they implemented the Inmate Vendor Package Program. He says the program has reduced the amount of contraband going in. The state has approved eight online vendors, where family and friends of an inmate can order items for them or put money in an account so they can do it them self.
"The vendors sell anything from clothing to hygiene items to food items to entertainment items such as TVs, radios…” said Carter.
While there are limits to the size and amount of goods they can get, the rules slightly differ for inmates serving their time in other states. Because of overcrowding, the California Department of Corrections says right now there are nearly 9,300 California inmates serving time, in Arizona, Mississippi and Oklahoma. Unlike prisoners in California, these inmates are allowed video consoles and games.
Including the controversial game Grand Theft Auto, being offered online at Walkenhorsts.com, a CDCR approved vendor.
When we asked Lt. Carter why the same regulations are not being applied to California inmates serving time out of state he said, "That's the intent; however; I don't know the intricacies or the contractual agreements between the parties.”
Lieutenant Carter says the CDCR is going to look into why items like that video game are still being offered online when they are not permitted to California inmates, even if they are not being sold.
Carter also notes that the state of California does not take commission from any vendor sales.