OGDEN -- Weber County jails are changing commissary service providers.
Swanson Services won the contract for handling commissary services for inmates and will make changes to make the service more convenient for everyone, said Reed Richards, an attorney who contracts with Weber County Sheriff's Office.
Swanson is putting 30 commissary kiosks throughout the jails, rather than the scan sheets currently used, Richards said.
The kiosks will allow commissary orders to be placed any day and will save a lot of time, said Julie Richesson, Weber County Sheriff's Office lead accountant.
The kiosks also cut down on information requests because kiosks allow inmates to track how much money they have, what their spending limit is, how much each item costs and even noncommissary-related information such as release dates.
Richesson said the commissary is very important to inmates.
"It keeps them centered. It keeps them happier, and it's also used as a management tool," she said.
Depending on the inmate's category, the prisoners are allowed higher or lower spending limits and are able to buy a wider or narrower variety of items, she said.
A kiosk also will be put in the Kiesel and 12th Street facilities for people to add money to an inmate's account, Richards said. Family or friends now have to send the money to the inmate by making a transaction with the clerk.
That has the potential to be dangerous, Richesson said. She said the jail handles a lot of money for inmates and, over the Labor Day weekend, saw $18,000 in transactions.
Richards said there hadn't been any problems so far, but the possibility for problems existed.
With the new public kiosk, people can use cash or a credit card to add money to an inmate's account. Richesson said this method will be safer and will save time for employees.
The commissary also has stopped selling cigarettes.
"We just thought, we don't allow inmates to smoke in the jail, so we probably shouldn't be selling cigarettes anymore," Richards said.
Although cigarettes made up about 50 percent of commissary business last year, Richards said Swanson is confident they can still sell enough other products to meet their financial guarantee to the county.
The contract guarantees Swanson will pay the county at least $20,000 a month. The county gets 43 percent of gross sales to inmates. At the end of the year, sales will be totaled and the county will get anything above the monthly payments already received, Richards said.
Richards said the county can expect to get about $255,000 a year.
The three-year contract can be extended twice. It begins in mid-October.