Spending time in a Texas prison is about to get even worse, if that's possible.
1200 WOAI news reports the roughly 155,000 inmates stuffed into the state's lockups may soon be without toothpaste and deodorant.
1200 WOAI's Michael Board has learned that since the items are considered to be 'non essentials' they are not supplied by the prison system. Instead, inmates have to buy so called 'hygiene kits' from the prison commissary.
But due to a problem with the contract with the commissary operator, there is a shortage of deodorant and toothpaste in the commissaries, fewer than a thousand hygiene kits are left for the more than 150,000 inmates, and no new supplies are on the way.
"The hardest part is the toothpaste, I think, because dental care is almost non existent in the prison system," said Jennifer Erschabeck with the 'Texas Inmate Families Association.'
She says it isn't that prisoners are necessarily trying to look great with their pearly whites, she says most inmates are beyond that. But it is important for everybody, even convicts, to take pride in their appearance, and it is also potentially painful to do without regular tooth brushing.
"Deodorant and toothpaste, that becomes a dignity issue," she sais. "It's really sad."
State officials are not holding out much optimism that the situation will be remedied any time soon. Almost none of the state's regular prison blocks are air conditioned, and Erschabeck says it's going to get pretty stinky in there in a couple of months.
"That's just a basic human thing that you would at least want to try to stay clean, and keep your teeth brushed, and try to smell halfway good."