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Lancaster Co. inmates help ease taxpayer burden by shopping - abc27 WHTM

Lancaster Co. inmates help ease taxpayer burden by shopping

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LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) -

At the Lancaster County Prison, vending machines are off limits. If inmates have a craving for something like a bag chips, they have to buy it through a commissary vendor -- and county commissioners argue that is ultimately good news for taxpayers.

Scott Martin, Lancaster County commissioner and chair of the Lancaster County prison board, said they are mandated to provide the basic needs of inmates. Anything from food to toiletries, even health care.

Lancaster County taxpayers are typically 100 percent responsible for covering those costs, but inmates are helping out with their shopping habits.

If inmates want any extras, like junk food, brand-name body wash or new sneakers, they can order them through a commissary vendor. Plus, each inmate is charged a fee for making a phone call.

Inmates pay for all of that from a commissary fund that is paid for by friends, family or jobs inmates have at the prison.

The county gets a cut of that money, which has added up to more than $2 million. The money will go right back to the prison in the form of improvements, easing the burden on taxpayers.

"So any time that you can have revenue you're able to generate that alleviates costs to the taxpayers, and in this case the inmates are receiving a benefit from these services, I think it's a win-win and it takes the pressure off the taxpayer," said Martin.

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