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GPT Phones, Mail, and Visitation Discussions Please post topics or discussions here that do not fit in the appropriate state or federal forums.

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  #1  
Old 08-31-2005, 04:44 PM
Limeylad Limeylad is offline
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Default Returned Prison Mail - Know Your Rights

Hello Everyone,

There is something here which I would like to share with you (just in case it should ever happen to you).

Some of you will be aware that my very greatest friend incarcerated in southern Florida had her mail cut off for a month early in August. Last Monday I received back an item of correspondence I had sent her, unopened, with no accompanying documentation. There was a simple statement inscribed in red ink on the front, "Mail suspension till 9/07/05".

Some people might believe that is reasonable; to me it is simply unacceptable.

I mention this because I suspect some of you probably receive back rejected mail from your loved ones from time to time in a similar fashion. If that happens, do remember to assert appropriate allegations with the relevant authorities. In my case, for Florida, that means making contact with the Inspector General, Mr Gerald Abdul-Wasi. I have had many exchanges with his office in recent weeks, but my latest one ran as follows:

==================================

Dear Mr Abdul-Wasi,



I have recently had returned to me from Homestead CI an item of general correspondence addressed to inmate Paula Grieve. An image of the obverse and reverse of the envelope is attached for your perusal. As you will observe, the article has been returned to me unopened, with no accompanying documentation.



You will notice that Warden Pichardo has clearly indicated on the obvserse of the envelope the reason the correspondence has been rejected. However, she has not given me (as the sender) notice that I may appeal the rejection.



That is a violation under Title 28, Volume 2 (Revised July 1, 2004) of the US Code of Federal Regulations: 28CFR540.13. I understand that at least one other person has had general mail returned to them under these conditions and they have likewise retained the evidence pending further investigation.



I would be grateful if you would investigate this apparent breach of US federal law by Warden Pichardo at the earliest opportunity.



Kind regards,




Steve Ormrod


==================================

It has drawn (within 24 hours) the following feeble response from Douglas Stephens, office of the Inspector General:

Mr. Wasi is unavailable this week. He asked that I advise you that we will conducting an inquiry into the mail handling procedures at Homestead C. I. When the inquiry has been completed I will advise you of the results.

==================================

A case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted? I should say so! I will leave it to your imagination how I shall proceed from here - but proceed I most certainly will.

I can hear a question being shouted here... "What is 28CFR540.13?" Well, have a look at the following link. Indeed, have a jolly good poke around thie website. There is no end of federal law here you could cite if the prison you deal with does not play the game strictly by the book...

http://squid.law.cornell.edu/cgi-bin...N=13&TYPE=TEXT

Kind regards,

Steve.
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Old 08-31-2005, 05:25 PM
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Thumbs up You Go Steve

BRAVO AND GOOD FOR YOU!

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Old 09-01-2005, 01:11 AM
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Wow, I have never had that happen... I would be fuming too!!! I have had mail "disappear" when he wrote me about some terrible CO action involving an imate's death. That was it, and believe me, I was furious.

Good for you for fighting back, I also raise hell whenever I can (and it won't hurt my guy) and it has achieved some surprising results...
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Old 09-01-2005, 06:57 AM
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I have never had that happen to me before, but I would be furious if it did, that's for sure! Good for you, I hope it gets some changes made there.
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  #5  
Old 09-01-2005, 09:49 AM
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I thought it was illegal for them to without their mail ingoing or outgoing!
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Old 09-01-2005, 05:55 PM
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Can U Please Tell Me What Site U Got Thet Originally From? Thanks Christy
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Old 09-01-2005, 06:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bellbowen
Can U Please Tell Me What Site U Got Thet Originally From? Thanks Christy
I could be wrong but it looks like Limeylad got it from here http://www.access.gpo.gov/index.html

I'm sure he'll correct me next time he comes back if I am wrong.
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Last edited by MiaBellaAngela; 09-01-2005 at 06:36 PM..
  #8  
Old 09-02-2005, 02:46 AM
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i had several of my mails returned with an attachment of mail policies and that's about it, then i would mail it back to them complying on the reason they returned it and they mail it back again to me and this time with a different reason why and yes, its the same mail minus what they asked me to remove the first time, this is just me sending my man writing materials!

I didnt know i can quote the law like that, im not aware of it to start with, that is amazing. You have our support and kudo's, dont let them get away with it, fight for it!
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Old 09-03-2005, 11:51 AM
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Standing ovation!! Yes,it is in violation of rights. I often wonder,if these people think we are stupid or that we are so fearful that we will back off and follow blindly when ever the rules are changed according to their views.
I have come to this point in my life, I will do as I please as long as it hurts no one, I will say what I want, because we have that right under our consitution. If I am thrown out of that prison, or my visits suspended, so be it. I will always be. If I see or hear of my husbands rights being taken , I will fight them openly. I am respectful but I will not back down and I am so pleased that you went up against these people with the truth. ~Bravo~
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  #10  
Old 09-03-2005, 12:42 PM
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At PCI (Ohio) the mail room does give the inmate a special notice informing him of mail that they have withheld from him and the reason for doing so. He then has so many days to write back to them about it. They withheld a couple of things that I sent but they never wrote to inform me of it. Is that Federal Code applicable to Federal prisons only? Perhaps State prisons and jails can do things differently??
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Old 09-03-2005, 04:25 PM
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lime,
good for you!!! i've never had that happen to me...and chris was sent to lock for one week for contraband in his room...and they gave him every peice of mail...and i recieved every peice of mail from him. federal crime it IS...and around here...people DO know their rights!

again, kudos to you!!!
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Old 09-03-2005, 06:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc's Sis
At PCI (Ohio) the mail room does give the inmate a special notice informing him of mail that they have withheld from him and the reason for doing so. He then has so many days to write back to them about it. They withheld a couple of things that I sent but they never wrote to inform me of it. Is that Federal Code applicable to Federal prisons only? Perhaps State prisons and jails can do things differently??
it is nice to be let known you are not getting something expected... my guy has had his mail withheld for the entire time of this last violation stay.... Never before have we had a problemwiht correspondence.
I know it is not a mailroom issue, and nothing is being returned... what can I to alleviate or challenge this action? Is the CDC in the wrong for withholding mail as a disciplinary/manipulation action? does this form apply to "disciplinary" actions?
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  #13  
Old 09-03-2005, 11:21 PM
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I am impressed!! Excellent!!
  #14  
Old 09-04-2005, 05:20 AM
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Default Prison Mail: Federal Law

Hello Everyone,

Have a look here:

http://www.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/cf...i?title=200428

Remember, what you are looking at here is US federal law administered by the US Department of Justice. Each individual State works up its own rules for prison administration (in Florida, it is known as "Chapter 33") - but ultimately, every State is bound by Federal Law and must not deviate from it. Put another way, the law you find nosing around this site must be adhered to as a minimum, no matter what any individual State legislature might tell you.

Look at Volume 2 in particular. Section 540 covers the handling of prison mail - but do have a really good poke around all of this website.

If you find a prison mishandling mail or not sticking to the letter of any of the law you find on this site go to the Inspector General (or equivalent) in your State. Cite at them the precise law that has been breached and tell them that you require an investigation to be conducted.

You will probably find, as I did, a Correctional Services Administrator comes back to you bleating that the prisoner should use the grievance procedure in such instances. If that occurs, reply at once saying that it is not the prisoner who is bringing the complaint; you are - and since you have no access to such procedure, you are lodging your complaint directly with the Inspector General.

What I am saying is this - it is futile dealing directly with the prison administration or with the warden. They will only try to take things out on your loved one. Go straight to the top - also, copy all of your communications to the State Governor's office as I have done.

Do not worry about reprisals if you follow that path; it is the correct legal one. Deal directly with the prison and your loved one could suffer. Deal directly with the State and its legislature - and you will be respected for knowing your rights and for standing up and being counted. You will not be thanked, but you WILL get a fair hearing.

Regards,

Steve.
  #15  
Old 09-04-2005, 05:51 AM
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Default Office of the Inspector General

Hello Again,

Some States - but not all, have them these days. These offices "police" the Department of Corrections. I am addressing all of my issues to the Inspector General of Florida, Mr Gerald Abdul-Wasi.

If your loved one is in California, for example, you will need to go to Mr Matthew Cate in Sacramento at http://www.oig.ca.gov/ - notice the mission statement "Welcome to the home page of the Office of the Inspector General. My mission as Inspector General is to safeguard the integrity of the state's correctional system — in effect, to act as the eyes and ears of the public in overseeing the state's prisons." HOLD HIM TO IT!! E-mail him on Inquire@oig.ca.gov - mark it high priority and for his personal attention.

In Arizona, you will need to deal with Mr Greg Lauchner in Phoenix at http://www.azcorrections.gov/support/ig/ig.html
http://www.azcorrections.gov/Directors/Homeland.htm
http://www.azcorrections.gov/support/supportsvs.html

In other States, go to http://www.google.com/ - and type "Inspector General" (with the quotes) followed by the name of the State. See where it takes you.

I hope this has been of some assistance. I know that it is expensive in the US seeking legal redress for you and your loved one - but there are ways to act yourself if you know how to go about it.

My loved one in Florida has been treated very shabbily by the prison system in recent weeks. What they have done is simply not acceptable to me. I am an Englishman. I fight.

Regards,

Steve.



  #16  
Old 09-04-2005, 07:05 AM
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Hello Marj,

Most individual prison administrations get away with things they should not be doing for two reasons. One is that they are not always totally aware of the law themselves; another is that it seldom occurs to a member of the general public that a law might have been broken, as in this case.

If your mail has been returned from the prison and you have not been informed of your right to appeal the rejection, then they have broken US federal law - end of story.

Go to the Inspector General, show him the evidence, cite the law that has been broken and he must conduct an investigation.

The warden at the prison will then have an inspector come knocking on their door. In practice this does not happen very often - few people with a loved one in prison are aware that this route is available to them; it is not widely broadcast for obvious reasons.

The chances of any serious reprisals against your loved one in these circumstances is low. Prison administrations do not like inspectors sniffing around them and having taken such action, the warden will know that if anything amiss should happen to your loved one then you will be straight back to the Inspector General with more complaints.

Again I say, copy all your correspondence to the Inspector General to the State Governor's office as well. Inspector Generals are officials; the Governor is their political master. If all else fails, go and have a word with "The Terminator". Always have the courage of your convictions.

Regards,

Steve.




Quote:
Originally Posted by marj_barrington
i had several of my mails returned with an attachment of mail policies and that's about it, then i would mail it back to them complying on the reason they returned it and they mail it back again to me and this time with a different reason why and yes, its the same mail minus what they asked me to remove the first time, this is just me sending my man writing materials!

I didnt know i can quote the law like that, im not aware of it to start with, that is amazing. You have our support and kudo's, dont let them get away with it, fight for it!
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Old 09-10-2005, 02:54 AM
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Default Thanks for info; recent similar experience w/FMC Devens

Hello,

Thanks for the info and this thread.
We have had a similar experience with FMC Devens. For 3 weeks we have been sending general correspondence to our son, and he has not received any mail. We have not had any indication that it has been rejected - no returned mail or notification. It's just missing. Other relatives have mailed general correspondence with the same results. Yet, prior to the past 3 weeks - all was fine. All correspondence was received. He is still receiving magazines , but no letters. Very strange. And we have always followed FMC's mail regulations.
I thought perhaps downloaded material I printed from the internet - which was sometimes included with letters might now be unacceptable. I did find (from the ACLU site) that this is accepted by the courts.
How are most mail rooms staffed ... with inmates or other?
We are now trying priority mail - to track letters - to see if the institution is in deed receiving the mail.
The info in this thread was very helpful. Thanks again.
Anyone else with recent correspondence problems at FMC Devens?
  #18  
Old 09-10-2005, 04:01 AM
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Hi Steve - Thanks for empowering us, this is really a great help. I never knew these things before, im pretty new here and the whole system. This is very helpful.

Hi Colorado - my husband is in CA, just like you i would also send him printout from the net about the state prison like how much beds they have, the facility where he is at, and other article about the prison system. I basically do the research for him like his secretary. He gets them so far, he doesnt have those last set i sent though, im hoping its just the Labor day that's causing the backlog and delay in the mail room. I'm concern too if sending my hubby printout online is ok, as per their mail policy there's no such rule that prohibits one. I tried priority too, it worked the first time, he got it in 3 days, now its past one week already and he still haven't got my mail. So much for paying extra. PM me if you get any answer to our concern. I wish us luck.

thanks,

Marj
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Old 09-13-2005, 12:42 PM
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Just a quick point.

If anyone tries to tell you that Federal Law relating to the mishandling of a prisoner's mail does not apply in a State Prison - don't accept it. Federal courts have upheld the right of every prisoner to send and receive mail in the prescribed fashion un the first constitutional amendment...

The first Amendment of the United States Constitution grants all citizens the right to association which necessarily requires access to prisoners as well.

Prison authorities have the right to read and inspect all inmate mail which serves two purposes: (1) It prevents contraband from being smuggled into or out of the institution;(2) It enables the prison authorities to detect plans for illegal activity - namelyescape. Such action has uniformly been held up by US courts. (Sostre V. McGinnis, 442 F.2d 178 (2nd Cir. 1971) cert. denied, 405 U.S.987 (1987).

The above two prong approach to regulation of inmate mail was upheld in Procunier V. Marinez, 416 U.S 396 (1974); and Turner V. Safley, 482 U.S. 78 (1987)

A prisoner in an American institution who is being denied his/her First Amendment Constitutional rights to association by the denial,destruction,refusal,trashing or prevention of valid mail delivery is entitled to file a Civil Rights action against the state prison authorities responsible for the deprivation pursuant to Title 42, United States Code, 1981, (known as the Civil Rights Act of 1871).
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Old 09-17-2005, 10:51 PM
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I had sent my childs father one of those xtra large birhtday card granted i did it for a laugh...but it was sent back and stamped "TOO LARGE" have you ever heard of such a thing. Even though I paid proper postage. Now Im gonna fold it a few times tape it and try to resend
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Old 09-18-2005, 12:13 PM
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yes, in DVI Tracy their mail policy says NO GREETING CARDS LARGER THAN 8"X10", im not sure about other prisons though but could be the same as well.
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Old 09-19-2005, 01:18 PM
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Default Mail Sizes

Yes - it is the same in Florida. Greetings cards must not exceed 8x10 in size.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bohan279
I had sent my childs father one of those xtra large birhtday card granted i did it for a laugh...but it was sent back and stamped "TOO LARGE" have you ever heard of such a thing. Even though I paid proper postage. Now Im gonna fold it a few times tape it and try to resend
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Old 10-12-2005, 04:41 PM
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Thats wrong. My man in NY rikers island got my letters, but they didn't accept a package w/his necessities in it. That's so wrong!!!
  #24  
Old 10-14-2005, 12:03 PM
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I had several pieces of mail returned recently---they were articles from El Diario and The Source. They told me it had to come from "Point of Sale". It came back in an envelope from RSFP here in NJ along with my original envelope. The only other time I had mail returned was when he was in NSP--my daughters made him hearts for Valentine's Day out of foam from Michael's craft store--they came back in an envelope with our original envelope saying the material was not approved by the NJ DOC and therefore could not be given to the inmate.
I have no idea what he'd do with a pink heart and a purple heart made out of foam, but we gave it to him when he was paroled.
Each prison has a list of things that are and aren't acceptable--some CO's follow it and others don't. I guess it depends on who is in the mailroom that day.
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Old 10-15-2005, 03:53 AM
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The following from USPS web site:

Correspondence coming into or leaving a correctional facility is different. According to postal regulation, found in Section 274.96 of the Postal Service's Administrative Support Manual, prisoner mail does not enjoy the right to privacy.

Section 274.96 Mail Addressed to Prisoners
Authorized personnel of prisons, jails, or other correctional institutions, under rules and regulations promulgated by the institution, may open, examine, and censor mail sent from or addressed to, an inmate of the institution. An inmate may designate in writing an agent outside the institution to receive his or her mail, either through an authorized address of the agent, if the mail is so addressed, or at the delivery post office serving the institution, if the mail is addressed to the inmate at the institution.

If an inmate consents to send or receive mail at an institution, all inmates' incoming and outgoing mail is subject to being opened, examined, and censored. Moreover, once the Postal Service delivers the mail, it becomes the property of the institution, not the inmate.

IF this is the truth, then once mail is received by the prison (and not in the possession of the Postal Service0, the prison may refuse to give such mail to the inmate. Correct? So, if the inmate was being punished for doing something wrong, would the prison be correct in saying she/he could not receive or send mail for x number of days? You say the prison did mark that her mail was suspended until a certain date - but then you go on to say they gave you no good reason for not accepting the letter.

I agree with everyone that prisons really mess things up with the mail. However, if an inmate doesn't follow the rules and privileges are removed, how can you fight that one? I also agree that it is upsetting to have mail returned when you know it was not contraband. I've had it happen more than once and then called the Mail Room to inquire as to why it was returned to me. They have always been courteous and helpful - even when I didn't agree with them.

Last edited by Doc's Sis; 10-15-2005 at 03:55 AM..
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