N.C. prisons move to digital mail for offenders


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Offenders at North Carolina’s 55 state prisons won’t get cards, photos or handwritten letters anymore. Instead, officials said they will receive a printed-out versions of digital scans.

The Department of Public Safety piloted the program in four women’s prisons starting last year and said disciplinary infractions for drug possessions dropped 50%, WNCN-TV reported. The rule change went into effect at men’s prisons on Monday.

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

Mailroom staffers confiscated 568 items of contraband and drugs in a year, according to the department. There are more than 26,000 men in state prisons.

Processing mail away from prison staffers eliminates the risk of staff and offenders accidentally being exposed to things like paper coated in liquid fentanyl, Commissioner of Prisons Todd Ishee said.

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

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