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MDOC takes steps to help prevent introduction of contraband via mail

(WILX)
Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 7:57 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The Michigan Department of Corrections is instituting changes to the way prisoner mail is processed and handled in order to further reduce the introduction of contraband into correctional facilities.

Beginning this week, all prisoner mail that does not require special handling, including the envelope and its contents, will be photocopied and these photocopies will be delivered to the recipient prisoner in a separate envelope. Original copies of mail items will not be delivered.

“The safety and well-being of all those at our correctional facilities is of critical importance, that is why we are taking these steps to help combat the introduction of dangerous contraband,” said Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington. “MDOC staff do an outstanding job every day thoroughly searching mail and working hard to make sure contraband, like controlled substances, do not make it behind our gates. With a recent increase in attempts to conceal contraband in the mail, it was necessary for the department to institute these measures as an added protection.”

The department’s mailrooms have seen attempts to smuggle drugs in through the mail increase this year, especially since the suspension of in-person visiting during the pandemic. Taking these steps to photocopy incoming mail will help reduce the potential for contraband introduction, particularly the potential for prisoners to access drugs that senders might attempt to deliver through the mail.

At least 10 other states, including Ohio, Indiana, and Nebraska in the Midwest, already have similar procedures in place regarding prisoner mail.

Those sending mail to prisoners should make sure to write in black or dark blue ink to ensure good image quality and readability when mail is photocopied, as mail written in pencil or lighter colors may be difficult to read. Photocopies will be in black and white.

Items that will be photocopied include:

  • Letters
  • Envelopes
  • Greeting Cards
  • Photographs
  • Drawings/Artwork
  • Other documents included in the personal mail

Items sent in via JPay — including greeting cards, photographs, and other drawings and artwork—will continue to be accessible in color via JPay tablets. Photocopies of mail will continue to be reviewed to ensure the content adheres to requirements laid out in the MDOC’s mail policy.

More information on the MDOC’s new mail requirements is available here.

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