... only postcards. KATU has an upsetting little report about a new cost-cutting policy at Marion County jail that will ban letters not relating to legal matters from coming into the jail, making friends and families of inmates write only postcards instead.
Now I understand that times are tough and jail officials estimate the change to postcards-only could save the system $30,000 a year in time spent opening mail looking for contraband. But I think the humanity and compassion of letting inmates communicate at length with their friends and families on the outside is worth at least 30 grand. Are inmates' spouses supposed to condense all of their thoughts onto a tiny postcard? How are they going to send photos of kids and grandkids? All communication will now take place on "standardized pre-stamped 3.5-by-8.5-inch postcards featuring a photo of the jail."
Hell, even the Geneva Conventions spells out the importance of prisoners of war being able to receive mail. And some of the people affected by the policy in Marion County jail are just awaiting trial, they haven't been convicted yet.
From the article:
"We think that it is a bad policy if it is going to limit the way the inmates are going to be able to communicate with their families in a meaningful way," said Jann Carson, associate director of the ACLU of Oregon.
Carson was not familiar with the Marion County jail's plans but spoke generally of the importance of communication between inmates and family.
"One of the best ways that we make ex-convicts reintegrate is keeping those ties to families while they are incarcerated," Carson said. "If this policy is going to make that more difficult, that is troubling."
Timothy Jones, 47, is serving a sentence in the jail for a probation violation.
"I don't know what you can say on a 3-by-8," Jones said. "Some of us got kids and other things that we need to discuss with our families." ... As an inmate, Jones doesn't know that he has the resources to fight back. When asked if the policy is fair, Jones seemed indifferent.
"I'm incarcerated; what is fair?" he said. "I think it is more unfair to our families."
I hope the ACLU fights this one.