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A pair of hands grasp a bars of a product barcode, concept of prison bars
Illustration by axllll on iStock

I must pay to stay in prison.
What type of scam is this?

My loved ones must order me a package every 90 days
and send me funds monthly to attend canteen.

I’m a ward of the state.
Why doesn’t the state foot the bill,
since they receive figures for holding me
until I’m eligible for parole?

My family has to pay for collect calls
and send me stamps to correspond
when I’m restricted from phone use.

At visitation, my people spend 5 to 10 dollars for an item;
highway robbery is the definition.

This forced labor isn’t cool
I have to do mandatory work, or lose more time of my life.

The judge sentenced me to confinement in a cell;
not forced rehabilitation.

If I were to depend on CDCR to take care of me
as they are supposed to do per contract,
I’ll be starving to death
because I don’t receive a 2,000 calorie diet by far.

I’ll be filthy and exposed to infection
because I receive one bar of soap and toilet paper weekly,
minus toothpaste and deodorant.

They get paid to house me
and I have to pay to stay here.

Everything isn’t adding up
because the captors have all the money.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Global Forum Online has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

E.D.H. is a poet who was raised in Compton in Los Angeles. He is currently incarcerated in California. He has asked to be published under his pen name.