Better Mail Screening
for Inmate Personal Mail
Volume of Personal
Mail Squeezes Resources
Incarcerated individuals receive a large number of letters and packages from friends and family. These communications may be the only touch points some inmates have with the outside world. Yet, corrections facilities struggle with screening such a large volume of mail for prison smuggling and ensuring timely delivery. Reduced personal visitations due to COVID-19 have resulted in increased mail volumes, so mail is becoming a much more prevalent channel for smuggling narcotics and contraband into correctional facilities.
OUTSOURCING ISN'T THE SOLUTION
Digitization Doesn't Address the Larger Concerns
Many corrections facilities have turned to digitizing or photocopying mail as a means of stemming the flow of drugs and contraband. In these cases, the inmate will either receive electronic files of personal mail via a digital tablet or receive paper photocopies of the original materials. This seems like a logical choice to address the problem of prison smuggling, but it’s not that simple.
The act of withholding the original mail piece, logistical delays introduced by copying or digitally scanning personal mail, and issues with the resulting quality of the copy have raised a number of concerns. In addition, someone is still opening the mail, whether internal staff or third-party vendors, which means that the risk of drug exposure is still there. Opening, scanning, and repackaging the materials for delivery (electronic or paper) is time-consuming and costly. Facilities that have chosen the electronic route must also invest in technology to deliver the digital copies, which opens the door for potential cyber threats and security breaches.
The steps involved in the digitization process require multiple entities, resources, time, and budget.
The steps involved in the digitization process requires multiple entities, requiring resources, time and budget.
THE IDEAL SCREENING PROCESS
A Familiar and
Physical mail-screening for contraband and narcotic smuggling should adopt the same workflows as those used for screening emails for cyber threats. When a suspicious email is detected, it is placed in quarantine for further inspection, while normal emails are immediately passed along to the recipient’s inbox.
Following this approach for reducing prison smuggling has many benefits:
- Maintain privacy and confidentiality
- Protects mail screeners and handlers
- Reduces screening time
- Detects more contraband and drugs
Drug and Contraband Detection in Inmate Mail
New innovations in T-ray technology allow corrections staff to detect the smallest, hardest-to-find drugs and contraband that X-ray and other screening techniques can’t find in personal and legal mail. This technology helps to keep officers, staff, and inmates safe.