I was recently reading a post on another website, I don't remember where or I'd link to it, about the amount of stealing and other criminal activity that goes on in prison. There is an occasional theft from another inmate, although that is uncommon because it is harshly dealt within within the ranks, but thievery from the prison itself is rampant.
Many of these thefts are committed because of the ease with which the contraband can be sold or traded for items from the commissary. Many of you have heard that "soups", small bags of instant ramen, are the medium of trade on the inside. The prisoners who don't get to go to the commissary often turn to stealing from their jobs to help fill their lockers. Wire (used for tattoo guns), food from the kitchen, pens, paper, anything that isn't bolted down ends up making its way into the system.
For the family members who read this post, not only the theft but also the possession of the contraband can end up affecting someone's chances for parole if they are caught and "get a case". While this is bad enough, the practice also conditions the inmate to criminal behavior as a way of life, making it that much easier to leave the straight and narrow path when they finally do get out of prison.
I said all that to say this. Times are tough on the outside, and all the prisoners know that, but of you can spare a few dollars, put the money on their books so they don't have to steal to have coffee or a soup. Also, when you talk to them at visits (you are visiting, aren't you?) discourage this behavior and let them know you want them home soon.
P.S. For those of you who have loved ones in a CCA facility, we understand the food is as sparse and nasty as they tell you. Except when inspectors are present, they are being fed barely enough to live on. If it wasn't for all the corn starch they pour in the ever present beans to thicken them up it wouldn't even start to make the belly full. Ramen is a necessity there.