New York DOC Modernizes Commissary Operations

By CN Staff

EAST ELMHURST, N.Y.—The New York Department of Corrections (DOC) is expanding its commissary operations to include a new more expansive menu. People in custody will now be able to place commissary orders over the phone, rather than using paper slips, which is the current practice.

Keefe Commissary Network (KCN), a subsidiary of the Keefe Group, will provide a streamlined automated telephone ordering system for people in custody to utilize when placing commissary orders.

KCN will handle all aspects of the commissary process, from order to delivery, and people in custody will use the phones in their housing areas to place orders from a menu of items that will be posted throughout the facilities. The system will advise the individual how to place an order, how much each item costs, and the amount of money they have in their accounts. Those orders will be sorted, bagged, and shipped from a KCN warehouse and transported to the facilities weekly in tamper-proof, secure packaging.

“Allowing people in custody to select from a wider variety of menu items, while also transitioning our commissary process into the 21st century just makes sense,” said DOC Commissioner Louis A. Molina. “Moving away from paper-based systems is a critical part of modernizing our operations.”

Currently, people in custody are escorted to the commissary store in their facility, then select the items they want to purchase. After they complete their purchase, they are escorted back to their housing unit. This process was slightly modified at the start of the pandemic and people in custody used a paper-slip system to submit their orders.

Under the new ordering system, individuals will place their orders from their housing unit through an automated phone system that is managed by KCN. The KCN menu includes approximately 200 options ranging from personal hygiene items to snacks and beverages. Once an order is completed, KCN staff will pick, sort, and deliver the commissary items in tamper-proof bags to each facility housing area. The escort officer will then distribute the commissary items to the persons in custody. This new process is a more efficient way to provide commissary to the jail population and is being used in jails and prisons across the country.

“The old paper-based system is not in line with modern-day correctional practices nor was it an efficient use of our staff and resources,” said Chief of Department Kenneth Stukes. “If we’re going to have conversations about upgrading antiquated processes, then we must take a hard look at those processes that no longer serve our department or the people in custody. Under this new administration, we are doing just that.”

People in custody began ordering through KCN the week of April 11th and deliveries are made to the facilities on a weekly basis. Each person will be limited to one eight (8) minute call to place an order, which will not count towards their free daily phone calls. During that call, they will be able to place, modify or cancel an order with the help of automated prompts. Although we anticipate a smooth transition, our current commissary inventory has an ample supply of menu items should any unforeseen issues in the rollout of the new system occur.

Since 1975, KCN has serviced the correctional market exclusively and offers products, packaging, and technology services to fit the needs of facilities nationwide including the nation’s largest jail system in Los Angeles County.