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17 Hastings Race & Poverty L.J. 3 (2020)
The Company Store and the Literally Captive Market: Consumer Law in Prisons and Jails

handle is hein.journals/hasrapo17 and id is 3 raw text is: 

   The Company Store and the Literally Captive

   Market: Consumer Law in Prisons and Jails

                            STEPHEN RAHER1


     The growth of public expense associated with mass incarceration has
led many carceral systems to push certain costs onto the people who are
under correctional supervision.   In the case of prisons and jails, this
frequently  takes  the form    of  charges   and fees    associated  with
telecommunications, food, basic supplies, and access to information.
Operation of these fee-based businesses (referred to here as prison
retail) is typically outsourced to a private firm. In recent years, the
dominant prison retail companies have consolidated into a handful of
companies, mostly owned by private equity firms.
    This paper explores the practices of prison retailers, and discusses
potential consumer-law implications. After an overview of the prison-retail
industry and a detailed discussion of unfair practices, the paper looks at
some potential legal protections that may apply under current law. These
protections, however, prove to be scattered and often illusory due to
mandatory arbitration provisions and prohibitions on class adjudication.
The paper therefore concludes with recommendations on a variety of steps
that state, local, and federal governments can take to address the problems
inherent in the current model.

    1. The author is grateful to Peter Wagner and all the staff at Prison Policy Initiative for
their support on this and many other projects. For feedback on early drafts, thanks to Lee
Petro, Andy Blubaugh, and the participants at the Consumer Law Scholars Conference at
Berkeley Law, particularly Creola Johnson, Jeff Sovern, Ted Mermin, Matthew Bruckner,
Craig Cowie, Prentiss Cox, Daniel Schwarcz, Myriam Gilles, and Tammi Etheridge. For
providing valuable insights about some of the specific practices in the industry, thanks to Art
Longworth, Alex Friedmann, and Pam Clifton. All images (figures and tables) printed herein
are created by the author or the author has permission to reprint images.

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