Protecting postal mail
- Postal rates
- Mail restrictions
Postal mail is a critically important method of communication for incarcerated people. People increasingly take it for granted that they can use their computer or smartphone to file a tax return, read the day’s news, or apply for student financial aid. But incarcerated people rely on paper-based mail for all of these activities.
Two trends threaten the ability of incarcerated people to use the mail: steadily rising postage rates (combined with degraded delivery speeds) and correctional administrators’ hostility to handling mail. Prison Policy Initiative regularly advocates for the availability of affordable and prompt mail service for all incarcerated people.
Below you'll find information about our research and advocacy to ensure physical mail continues to be affordable and accessible for incarcerated people and their families.
Stopping mail restrictions in prisons and jails
- Opposing mail scanning
An alarming number of prisons and jails, including the Federal Bureau of Prisons, have — at the encouragement of private companies — started or experimented with photocopying and scanning incoming mail and forwarding paper or digital copies to recipients. This policy deprives incarcerated people of the ability to touch and save mail from loved ones.
- Fighting sheriffs who want to restrict jail mail
Some jails around the country have implemented cruel policies that limit the personal mail people can receive to postcards. We’ve released two major reports to support the fight against harmful letter bans.
- Please Mr. Postman: It’s time to create a special postal mail rate for incarcerated people by Stephen Raher, August 17, 2022
In recent comments to the Postal Regulatory Commission, we call on the federal government to take steps to ensure mail continues to be affordable and accessible.
- Proposed slowdown of the mail would disproportionally hit incarcerated mailers by Stephen Raher, June 16, 2022
Not only is postage getting more expensive, but mail delivery is slowing down. We opposed the Postal Service’s 2021 proposal to permanently slow-down first-class mail delivery standards.
- Warning: A painful road ahead for postal customers by Stephen Raher, February 20, 2021
In November 2020, the U.S. Postal Service received new authority to raise the cost of postage faster than the rate of consumer inflation. In this briefing we explain how this change would harm incarcerated mailers.
- Will the Postal Service ignore its most vulnerable customers? by Peter Wagner, October 29, 2019
In 2019, the U.S. Postal Service announced its intent to round up all future first-class stamp prices to the nearest nickel, because customers would supposedly apperciate the “convenience.” We fought this proposal before the Postal Regulatory Commission, arguing that it would needlessly take money from some of the lowest-income users of the mail.
Correctional mail scanning contracts
We've made our collection of correctional mail scanning contract documents public. Search them to see what companies are profting in your area.