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Vending Business Information, Issue #012 -- Vending Business In Prisons
April 16, 2011
Vending Business In Prisons
Before one of my employees can enter one of our prison accounts they must pass two background checks. Once they have passed our background check, drug screening and the prison background check they must go through a class where they receive the necessary information they should have from the prison personnel before going on the inside.
I have two prisons in my area that we service; one is a maximum security and the other is a minimum security. Our drivers are allowed to make their rounds without a guard being present in the minimum-security facility. Of course, guards are never far away and you normally can see guards but with the camera systems you are never out of site of the guards.
Maximum SecurityWe are only allowed to enter the maximum-security facility with a guard escort. As you walk along, you come to a door that is closed; you then notice the camera that is focused on the door. There are guards sitting in a control room that open the door for you. Once you are on the other side it is automatically closed behind you.
Buying From Our Prison MachinesBefore you can buy from one of the many machines we have in our prison accounts, you must purchase a debit card. We have machines located in different locations in the prison where a visitor or staff member can walk up to the machine and insert their card in the card slot. They insert paper currency into the bill slot and a credit is transferred to the card in the amount of the bill they put into the machine.
The inmateís family can give money to be credited to the inmateís card, I assume through prison personnel, as I have never seen that type of machine available to an inmate. The inmates have jobs and are paid between .35 and .40 cents per hour for the work they do. This money can be credited to their debit cards.
Why Do The Prisons Like this System?My thoughts are the prison personnel donít want inmates to have cash, as the strong will take from the weak for protection. With the card every transaction made in one of our machines can be traced. We know the card that bought the item, the machine it was bought from, what column in the machine it was bought from, and what time of day it was bought. The only thing we as the vendor donít know is the name of the person that owns the card. The prison of course knows that information.
The prison personnel will occasionally ask me to do a search on a particular card number and in most cases they are looking to see if the inmate that the card belongs to has access to the machines the card is being used in and how much business is being done in a certain time frame.
If the card was used in an area the inmate does not have access to and there were 20 bottles of soda, 20 candy bars and 20 bags of chips all bought in a 3-hour period the prison has a good idea what is going on. An inmate is being strong-armed for protection.
How Do I Feel On The Inside?For the most part I feel safe. I listened to the instructor during my orientation and I try to implement the instructions of the Doís and Doníts on the inside.
You know you are walking among men that have done some of the most despicable things on the outside. That is why they are locked up. It seems if they are given a chance they will try to manipulate you into doing something they cannot do for themselves.
It is said that 85% of those in the maximum security are there for life. It does at times sadden me that where they are now is where they are going to be till the day they die. What a waist.
How Is Business?Business is good. You may be saying how can that be? Well, think of it this way, they may only make .35 to 40 cents per hour but their room and board is all paid for. What money they do have usually goes into a vending machine, which is like a fine restaurant to them.
Friends and family members come to visit and buy from the vending machines. While they are there they will buy for their loved one that is behind bars.
For those of you who are serious about your vending business this is a side of the business you may want to pursue. After all, it is in the full sense of the word a captive audience (no pun intended).
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