PPI letter to the Editor: Don’t limit incarcerated people to postcards

by Leah Sakala, June 13, 2013

The Mississippi Sun Herald printed my letter to the editor about why the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department’s plan to ban all non-legal letter correspondence to or from the jail is a bad idea:

Starting Monday, the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department plans to prohibit all non-legal mail except postcards. Such a policy would both decrease public safety and place an enormous burden on the families of incarcerated people. Also, as the courts have ruled, other jails have found that banning letters to and from home doesn’t actually cut costs.

My Prison Policy Initiative report, “Return to Sender: Postcard-only Policies in Jail,” finds postcard-only policies jeopardize critical social ties to families and friends, hindering re-entry and increasing the chances that people will commit more crime in the future. These policies also stifle important family communication and raise the price kids and other family members must pay to stay in touch.

If the sheriff’s department wants to increase public safety, it should immediately cancel the proposed postcard-only mail policy. The friends and loved ones of incarcerated people need to be allowed to maintain the connections that keep communities safe and families intact.

Check out our page on postcard-only policies in jails for more information on this harmful trend, and to learn how people around the country are fighting for the right to write letters.

One Response

  1. Judith Davis says, 1 week after publication:

    The Columbia County Detention Facility in Lake City, Florida, also went to post card mail only. I called, emailed and left messages for the sheriff and the county attorney and received no response. What does this mail policy accomplish? The guards just don’t have to “work” as hard. All mail was opened and read prior to a detainee receiving it anyway. Since no pictures could be sent, I printed pictures from my phone, the internet or my computer on the back of postcards. Of course, this is not the way it should be, but it’s not easy working with the postcard requirement. If a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional in Oregon….why doesn’t it apply in Florida or elsewhere? Thanks for fighting for those incarcerated. My grandson hasn’t even been convicted yet or taken a plea, but he is already facing policies that appear to be and have been ruled unconstitutional.

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