Monday, July 25, 2011

Prison Economics

At Erlestoke, the price of a mobile phone bought for £10 in a supermarket is £100 on the landing.

Unsurprisingly, many prisoners are natural entrepreneurs.  I'm always amazed that legitimate businesses and investors fail to notice this pool of talent and attempt to harvest it.


  1. That is cheap! In some places, e.g. Armley, the price of a simple mobile phone is over twice the price you mention.Oh no, I sincerely hope that this is not another case of the North-South divide!
    The smugglers really know how to make the best of market conditions. It's about time some legislation were put in place to limit market exploitation. We want to see a Green Paper on the matter in the very near future. P.S. the penalty has to fixed........ uniformed or numbered traders. prem

  2. I think you highlighted an article about a program in Texas where drug dealers were considered potential entrepreneurs and given additional training and guidance with a 97% non re offending rate.

  3. They have, and you illistrated how companies like Summit Media exploit inmates in a previous blog entry.

  4. I would just like to know where they come from!! 45% or so are smuggled in by family/friends, how does the other 55% get in I wonder?????

  5. Years ago before the introduction of phones on prison landings, (and before a mobile had ever made its way into a prison) myself and a couple of cohorts found a way of surreptitiously entering a little used wing office where we knew the key to the filing cabinet (which contained an old fashioned plug-in phone!) was ‘hidden’ behind a thermometer hanging on the wall.

    Having used this ‘facility’ between ourselves for some weeks without incident we decided to start charging others a modest fee for 5 minute ‘turns’ on said phone’.

    All went well until one of our ‘customers’ wife’s rang the jail back (so shocked was she at hearing her husbands voice over the phone after so many years!) to get the screws to confirm that he hadn’t escaped.

    Our tried and tested ‘lookout system’ worked as it should, insuring that no one (apart from the poor chap who’s wife rang back in!) got nicked for what was a nice little perk/earner.

    I have always wondered (he was taken away and never seen again!) how he explained both the unlocked office door and unlocked filing cabinet draw (the key to the latter having been replaced back behind the thermometer before we fled!) as he had no idea of how the initial ‘burglary’ was first committed.

    As Ben knows, phones can be nothing but trouble....

  6. I thought it was that little bit of fur that can be nothing but trouble.... oh never mind.

    I had my own sim card, easy enough to get in, and would use another inmates handset, in exchange for some of the credits on it. So, one phone, can be used by 10 or more inmates who have their own sim cards.

  7. I'm always amazed that legitimate businesses and investors fail to notice this pool of talent and attempt to harvest it

    That's because legitimate businessmen need criminals who don't get caught.