You Can’t Take it With You

They say that you can’t take it with you when you go – it turns out that applies just as much to Mackerel as it does to money. How? Well, an article in the Wall Street Journal explained how tins of mackerel are used as currency in some US prisons.

Prisoners aren’t allowed to process cash and therefore need a proxy they can use to remunerate each other for services they provide – haircuts, legal services and so on. Until 2004, when smoking in federal prisons was banned, the currency of choice was a packet of cigarettes.

Now, foil packets of Mackerel fillets – known as ‘Macks’ – are the currency of choice. They’re conveniently sized, cost around $1 each and can be brought into the prison from outside. Hence, they’re a perfect choice.

The problem is of course that their value stops at the prison gate – no matter how many macks you’ve accumulated during your time inside, there’s not much you can do with them on the outside. Unless, of course, you’re happy to eat them, which few of the prisoners seem to be.

You can read the full article on the Wall Street Journal Web Site.