Author with Bob Hewey of Prison Tokens, Coupons and Scrip of the United States and Canada (2020).
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You may ask, “why were there special kinds of money used in prisons, jail and reformatories?” There are good reasons not to allow legal tender coins and bills in the hands of prisoners. The ready availability of such currency could encourage bribery, extortion, gambling and facilitate acquisition of contraband and escapes. Still, there needs to be some type of money so that inmates can purchase discretionary items, such as snacks, tobacco, toiletries and reading and writing supplies. This catalog will focus on the token coinage and scrip issued to address these problems in the United States and Canada.