Eric Harrison, a spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Corrections, said the change was for safety reasons.
“It was really just an attempt to limit the introduction of contraband,” says Harrison. “Obviously it’s been a problem for years but over the last few months we’ve seen a huge spike in the amount of drugs laced in paper, dried, sent to institutions via private mail. And right now our facilities don’t have the capacity to complete those inspections.”
The Department of Corrections sent a letter to the families of inmates last week, saying they must now send personal letters to a post office box in Florida.
A disposal company will scan it, then a printout will be given to the prisoner within 48 hours.
Harrison said the state is paying the company $3.50 per prisoner per month, or about $13,300. But he says he hopes the change will save time and money overall.
“And the reason for that is that we pulled in the actual custody officer to check that letter,” Harrison said. “We can’t let anyone else go through it. They put that device in, like I said, they test it. And so it’s really going to save that time, we can instead allocate them to the appropriate posts.”
But Jennifer Burrill, elected president of the New Mexico Criminal Defense Bar Association, worries about its impact on inmates. She said it was dehumidifying.
“And so if they don’t have those ties to family or friends to help them through that transition then they fail and they’re right back into the system. This step further eliminates they’re from the right people,” said Burrill.
Harrison said legal, financial and medical letters, along with religious and school documents, will still be accepted at prisons.
KOB 4 asked Harrison to respond to Burrill’s concerns:
“I certainly understand the concern. I totally understand. I understand why the family and the public feel this way. But the goal as I said is to protect the prisoners and staff, that’s the goal. number one. Any decision we make is for a reason,” says Harrison.
https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/personal-mail-will-no-longer-be-accepted-at-new-mexico-prisons/6350407/?cat=500 Personal letters will no longer be accepted in New Mexico prisons