Challenging “Postcard-Only” Mail Policies

October 10, 2012

In a disturbing new trend that has been sweeping the country, some jails are prohibiting inmates from sending or receiving any mail unless it is written on one side of a small postcard. Although most jails say they are trying to prevent contraband, few have documented any serious contraband problems with the mail system because they are already allowed to open and search all envelopes and packages that enter or exit the jail.

Such severe restrictions on inmates’ ability to communicate with their families and loved ones is also counterproductive to public safety since studies have shown that prisoners are less likely to re-offend when they are able to maintain close ties with families and other support networks in the community.

In 2012 the ACLU of Michigan filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a federal lawsuit challenging the Livingston County Jail’s postcard-only policy. The case remains pending before Judge Denise Page Hood.

(Prison Legal News v. Bezotte; ACLU Attorneys Dan Korobkin and Michael J. Steinberg; Cooperating Attorney Nakisha Chaney.)