New PPI video: Why jails shouldn’t ban letters from home

by Leah Sakala, September 9, 2013

Our new video reveals that a harmful new trend is sweeping through local jails as a growing number of sheriffs ban letters from home:

Want to learn more about this disturbing trend? Check out our page on jail letter bans.

5 Responses

  1. jan tilden says, 2 hours, 8 minutes after publication:

    So what do you do to stop this practice????? Walton County jail in Monroe, Ga. allows only postcards. Horrible practice and is proving to be very detrimental in keeping family ties.

    1. Leah Sakala says, 3 hours after publication:

      That’s a really good question, Jan. Litigators might say suing the sheriff would be the best approach, but folks who aren’t lawyers could check in with the sheriff about whether or not he or she is aware that banning letters from home runs afoul of common sense, sound social science research, public safety interests, and the best practices endorsed by the nation’s top correctional professionals. It’s precisely for those reasons that sheriffs in places like Santa Clara County, California are abandoning the idea of postcard-only policies. Our report summarizing this problem is a good place to start for more: https://www.prisonpolicy.org/postcards/ .

      -Leah

  2. Penal Pastor says, 3 hours, 53 minutes after publication:

    Just because some judge is of the opinion that banning letters does not save money does not make it so. While it is easier to smuggle contraband via a letter (I’ve seen LSD laced stamps), this is primarily a desperate attempt to save money. County governments are really hurting and the citizens are getting tired of fiscally paying for committed crimes. A way needs to be found where inmates who produce more than they consume can have that privilege returned.

    1. Leah Sakala says, 22 hours, 6 minutes after publication:

      Sheriffs who want to ban letters from home in order to “save money” need to take a good hard look at the very steep price taxpayers pay for high recidivism rates and full jails. While banning letters may deter people from communicating and therefore reduce the volume of mail that jails have to process, the revolving door effect that fills cells is far more costly.

      -Leah

  3. Kathryn Barragan says, 1 day, 5 hours after publication:

    My son- in – law currently resides at the Santa Barbara County Jail where he has been for a year simply waiting his preliminary hearing. He is not able to make bail. One family member always makes sure he receives a visit twice a week. We are more fortunate than most that we live in the same city where he is currently incarcerated.

    The letter ban has affected us dramatically. I believe my son- in- law’s mental health has certainly been affected. The stress of the approaching court date is partially responsible, but at this crucial time he needs and wants to receive letters of love, support, and encouragement. I have so much I wish to say to him, not just to comfort him, but to send pictures, news paper articles he might enjoy, family news that will cheer him up. Mental health officials must be contacted and recruited to help with this cause. The budget must not be allowed to balance itself on the backs of the inmates. Sacrificing the stability of a human’s mind and soul for ludicrous reasons and excuses must be overturned at once.

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