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Federal Bureau of Prisons

Introduction to BOP

I would suggest you contact the BOP institution where you are designated and request a copy of their inmate handbook and commissary list. If possible, schedule a tour of these facilities to get a visual of inmate’s daily activities, outlay of the dormitory, recreation, medical, employment, and vocational departments.

Suggested books written by a former and a current inmate regarding their federal prison experience, David Novak’s book called Downtime: A Guide to Federal Institutions, and Michael Santos’ book called What If I Go to Prison.


The institution operates a commissary which provides numerous items for purchase. A list with the price of each item can be obtained from the commissary. You may submit a commissary order form according to the schedule posted in your unit. You must have funds in your account to receive goods from the commissary. All sales are final and there are not returns or exchanges. All items are sold on an "as-is" basis with no warranty implied. The only items that are excluded from the monthly  spending limitation is postage stamps. It is your responsibility to monitor the money in your account and maintain copies of your sales receipt. The balance left of the monthly spending limit is printed on your sales receipt. Inmates may check their  account balance through the inmates telephone system from an authorized inmate telephone, if you feel there is a discrepancy in your account the commissary staff are not responsible for, nor can they answer questions about, posting of funds to your account. Hours of operation for the commissary is posted in the housing units.