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.
  • report thumbnailFighting 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.

Postal rates

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.

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