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Old 02-20-2019, 03:11 PM
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Default Pennsylvania DOC's legal mail policy to be tested in federal court

This Philadelphia Inquirer article from Feb 19, 2019 "Pennsylvania prisons’ unprecedented mail policy will be tested in federal court this week" discusses the court challenges to PADOC's recent changes to the inmate mail policy, including legal mail by lawyers to, and from prisoners.
https://www.philly.com/news/pennsylv...-20190219.html
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Old 02-20-2019, 10:12 PM
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I knew this was coming, sooner or later, but I knew someone would file....PA DOC's mail policy is so wrong, on so many levels.


....I tried to post in the comments section, but can't get it to go through
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Old 02-23-2019, 10:26 AM
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The state prisons in VA have a similar policy, but they scan the letters on site, then distribute the copies to the "offenders." There is a limit on how much you can send in one letter. It can't be more than 6 scanned pages, including the envelope. This means I can only mail 5 pages in one envelope. The post office allows 1 ounce for 55 cents now, but since I type and print letters on the front and back of the paper, I could send 2-3 more pages and still be under once ounce. This is not right. I should be able to mail up to the one-ounce limit set by the Postal Service.

This also means we can't send pictures in the mail. They scan them in black and white and you can barely make out the features of the people in the picture. Of course, you can EMAIL a picture, which costs even more. And the "offender" has to buy a tablet so that he can receive the pictures. This, too, is not right.

I don't believe there's been any change to how legal mail is delivered in VA. Just personal mail. Is that discrimination?

What do YOU think?

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Old 02-24-2019, 09:05 AM
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We have been following this case closely; some of the attorneys involved are on our Board.

The DOC is offering a settlement in the form of a revised policy. It would seem that they will have to return to handing over the originals rather than making copies. We should have the final decision very soon.
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Old 06-30-2019, 02:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobble60 View Post
We have been following this case closely; some of the attorneys involved are on our Board.

The DOC is offering a settlement in the form of a revised policy. It would seem that they will have to return to handing over the originals rather than making copies. We should have the final decision very soon.

Any updates on this please? I know a few months back, there was a meeting with the DOC and several groups (CADBI etc) to discuss what can be done about reversing the mailing policy back to mailing directly to the facility, and inmates being able to receive cards, photos and drawings again.....and a follow up meeting was to be held 2 -3 months (can't remember which now) later...which I think has passed now.


I'd love to know of any further progress made with this.

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Old 06-30-2019, 05:57 AM
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You have to break this into three categories: legal mail, regular mail and publications. These are the latest policies.

Legal Mail: We're back to the original method. The legal mail is opened in the presence of the inmate, quickly searched for contraband and then given to the inmate. The new policy is on how attorneys must send the mail. Each attorney is given a "control number". He/she signs an oath never to allow that number to be used for illicit purposes, such as the introduction of contraband, use by any other person or the inclusion of non-legal materials. Then, each registered attorney is sent a PIN number every Saturday night. The PIN is for one week only. both the control number and the weekly PIN must be on the envelope. That part of the envelope is either obliterated or removed before the legal mail leaves the facility mail room for the housing unit. Neither the control number nor the PIN may be anywhere within the contents of the mail. Any violation of this policy results in both a permanent ban of the attorney and criminal investigation of both the attorney and the inmate.

Regular mail: Per the Secretary on June 22, the current arrangement with SMART Communications is for "the foreseeable future." The contract runs for another four years. They have no intention of changing this. This is not being litigated. It does not violate any inmate rights.

Publications: These must come from the vendor (as always) and are sent to a centralized processing center on the grounds of SCI Rockview. Once cleared, they are sent to the institution. "Daily" newspapers are not subject to this. They go directly from the publisher to the facility.
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Old 06-30-2019, 06:59 AM
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Legal Mail: We're back to the original method. The legal mail is opened in the presence of the inmate, quickly searched for contraband and then given to the inmate. The new policy is on how attorneys must send the mail. Each attorney is given a "control number". He/she signs an oath never to allow that number to be used for illicit purposes, such as the introduction of contraband, use by any other person or the inclusion of non-legal materials. Then, each registered attorney is sent a PIN number every Saturday night. The PIN is for one week only. both the control number and the weekly PIN must be on the envelope. That part of the envelope is either obliterated or removed before the legal mail leaves the facility mail room for the housing unit. Neither the control number nor the PIN may be anywhere within the contents of the mail. Any violation of this policy results in both a permanent ban of the attorney and criminal investigation of both the attorney and the inmate.
Well, if all that ain't our tax dollars at work I suppose with all the extra work, now they'll want raises ...and how many attorneys and/or mail rooms are going to have issues keeping up with a pin # that changes every week

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Regular mail: Per the Secretary on June 22, the current arrangement with SMART Communications is for "the foreseeable future." The contract runs for another four years. They have no intention of changing this. This is not being litigated. It does not violate any inmate rights.
Maybe not, but it sure violates Human Rights when pictures of baby's first bite of lemon, or someone's deceased parent / spouse / child, etc, are too fuzzy or dark to make out facial features

I know, I know....I'm preaching to the choir here
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Old 07-07-2019, 06:32 AM
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Sadly, you are. We agree that the new process is a form of deprivation and we continue to press for something better.
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