North Carolina prisons switch to digital mail for offenders

Prison (Photo: BBC News / Youtube)

RALEIGH, NC (AP) – Offenders in North Carolina’s 55 state prisons will no longer receive cards, photos or handwritten letters. Instead, officials said they would receive printed versions of the digital scans.

The Department of Public Safety piloted the program in four women’s prisons from last year and said disciplinary offenses for drug possession fell by 50%, WNCN-TV reported. The rule change went into effect in men’s prisons on Monday.

The department said the program will make prisons safer, but advocates are worried. Connections like cards of loved ones in prison are essential for a successful life after prison, said Mike Wessler, director of communications for the Prison Policy Initiative. Without strong social ties, people behind bars can see their mental health suffer, he said.

Mailroom staff confiscated 568 contraband and drug items in one year, the department said. There are over 26,000 men in state prisons.

Handling mail away from prison staff eliminates the risk of staff and offenders accidentally exposed to things like paper coated with liquid fentanyl, said Prison Commissioner Todd Ishee.

People can download an app called TextBehind and download the scans. Each scan starts at 49 cents. Mail cannot be sent directly to prisons.

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