To listen to the Show Me Today interview with Missouri Department of Corrections Spokesperson Karen Pojmann, click below.
To help stop the flow of drugs and other illegal items into Missouri’s prisons, the state Department of Corrections says it has moved to a digital mail system. Most personal mail for prisoners is now required to go to a digital mail center in Florida, where it is scanned and sent to them on a digital tablet.
Missouri Department of Corrections Spokesperson Karen Pojmann said there are a few advantages to moving to the digital system.
“The biggest one is keeping contraband out of our facilities,” she said. “Drugs are often sent in through personal mail. They can be hidden under stamps. They can be hidden in the seam of an envelope or a greeting card. And quite commonly, paper can be actually soaked into drugs, such as fentanyl or K2, or another substance. The paper itself is a drug and potentially toxic and deadly. Moving to this new system helps us to keep our facilities safer, keeps our mailrooms safer, and it helps to keep dangerous contraband out of our prisons.”
If an inmate is being transferred, the mail is automatically sent directly to them based on their tablet, instead of worrying about their mail being forwarded to them.
Prisoners who have not been issued a tablet will have their digital mail printed and delivered to them.
According to Pojmann, outgoing mail is not affected – prisoners can still send their mail through the U.S. Postal Service.
Will outsourcing the mail process delay their mail?
“So far it hasn’t had an impact on the speed,” said Pojmann. “The mail has to be processed regardless, wherever it goes and whoever is doing the processing. There’s a processing period, so I don’t think that this will affect the timeliness of receipt of the mail.”
There are exceptions. Prisons will continue to accept the following items via postal mail:
• Privileged/legal mail (e.g., courts, attorneys)
• Mail from other agencies (e.g., child support)
• Certified mail (must be pre-approved by the offender’s case manager)
• No personal correspondence will be accepted by certified mail. Accepted documents may include identification for the resident’s release and legal documents needing a resident’s signature.
• Publications sent directly from a publisher, distributor or other bona fide vendor.
• Visitation applications
Pojmann said the change also helps to free up some staff time.
“They spent a lot of time in the mailroom going through all the mail and inspecting the mail. It can be very laborious process,” she said. “This way it’s been outsourced, and the offenders are still receiving their mail in a digital form.”
She said switching to digital mail will not result in job losses.
“We do have mailroom staff. Part of their job is also to look through the mail for censorship purposes. We don’t permit mail that has anything that’s sexually explicit in it or violent or things that contain gang symbols or security threat group types of symbols. So, there still will be plenty of work to go around,” said Pojmann.
Pojmann did not have details about the cost of the change.
Loved ones can send electronic mail, greeting cards, pictures and 30-second videos through a secure account on the Missouri Department of Corrections website. More information about creating an account can be found by clicking here.
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