Eliminating contraband entering the jail via mail is the goal of a new policy under which inmates at the Rutherford County Sheriff Office Adult Detention Center will receive postcards only with one exception, beginning Oct. 1, the detention commander says.
“We average about 800 inmates a day here and many of them receive one or more envelopes per day,” Maj. Tommy Thompson said. “That’s equivalent to the population of a small town.”
Under the current policy every incoming envelope must be opened to ensure no contraband items are inside before they can be delivered, Thompson said.
Since July 1, more than 330 envelopes have been returned to senders for violating contraband policies, the major said.
“Under our new policy, inmates may receive postcards every day but can only get envelopes containing photographs postmarked between the 1st to the 7th of each month,” he said. “Those envelopes will be opened to ensure no narcotics or other contraband items are inside before delivery.”
The other three weeks they can receive only postcards so there is nearly zero chance contraband can enter the facility via mail, the commander said.
Inmates will still be allowed to send envelopes and letters, the major added, but all incoming and outgoing correspondence is subject to examination because they have no legal expectation of privacy.
“We do not examine outgoing correspondence to legal counsel, but all inbound envelopes are checked for contraband,” Thompson said.
Other detention and penal facilities nationwide have adopted similar postcard policies and the goal everywhere is to reduce contraband entering inmate populations, he said.
While illegal narcotics are the primary concern,
other items are contraband at RCSO, the major said, including:
- Prescription and over the counter medications medication
- Photographs, drawings or writing with nudity, gang-related or indecent content
- Polaroid photos or any photo larger than 4 x 6 in.
- Blank paper and envelopes
- Staples, paperclips, tape or other items not approved by staff
- Laminated or plastic cards
The policy states:
Effective October 1, 2013, inmate mail will only be accepted in the form of postcards, with maximum dimensions of 5 ½-in. tall x 8 1/2 –in. wide. All postcards must include the inmate name, sender name and return address. Postcards that have items pasted or attached, or have been altered in any form will be rejected and returned to sender. The only exception will be standard-sized envelopes containing appropriate personal photographs, with maximum dimensions of 4-1/8 –in. tall x 9 ½ -in. wide postmarked from the 1st through 7th of each month. Envelopes with items pasted or attached or containing additional items of any kind, will be returned to sender. Inmate legal mail will not be affected by this change. There will be no exceptions.
Sgt. Dan Goodwin #304 - Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office