In September of this year, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections imposed a set of policies restricting prisoners from receiving physical mail.
A 2015 report found 34% of the families studied fell into debt paying for phone calls and visitation.
Prisoners can only get official photocopies rather than originals. Every letter sent to a PA prisoner first has to go to Florida to be scanned, then sent as a photocopy back to PA. Prisoners report that scanned mail arrives weeks after it was sent and the photocopied letters and cards are often too illegible to read. This process hurts vital family connections, plus communication with lawyers which relies on timeliness. These policies rob our incarcerated loved ones of the hope and comfort from an original, hand-written letter or photograph, or from getting holiday and birthday cards.
This process hurts vital family connections.
The new PA DoC mailing rules leave taxpayers with a monthly bill of $376K while ruining the most affordable option for communication and connection that prisoners and their families have. Mail is the most cost-effective option for families to stay connected with their loved ones in prison. A 2015 report found 34% of the families studied fell into debt paying for phone calls and visitation.
Since the announcement of these new policies, FAMM has launched a campaign to collect letters from currently incarcerated individuals impacted by the new mail and visitation policies. The letters below are a part of this campaign.
Join FAMM by taking the following actions*:
- Help us flood the governor’s office with mail from incarcerated people and their allies. Those on the inside can send their grievances about the restrictions along with any photocopied mail they’ve received from Florida that’s distorted or illegible. Those on the outside can send items they can’t send to their friends and loved ones: greeting cards, photographs, drawings, etc. Let your incarcerated friends, family, and contacts know what we’re doing and share the governor’s address: Governor Tom Wolf, Office of the Governor, 508 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg PA 17120.
- Call Governor Wolf’s office (717-787-2500) and Corrections Secretary Wetzel’s office (717- 728-2573) to let them know your concerns about these new policies. If you live in PA, call your state senator and your state representative as well – you can find contact info for your state reps here.
- Stay tuned for more calls to action in the coming days and weeks! Follow FAMM on Facebook, IG, and Twitter for updates.
* Thank you to Books Through Bars for the list of actions.