'Snail mail' no longer allowed at one Mid-South jail - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

'Snail mail' halted at jail after pain killer patches found in envelopes

Source: DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department Source: DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department
Inmates will now only be able to receive emails through a kiosk. Inmates will now only be able to receive emails through a kiosk.

(WMC-TV) – Inmates at one Mid-South jail are no longer allowed to receive "snail mail."

The DeSoto County Detention Center started the new policy this month. According to the jail administrator, staff members have seen an increase in attempts to bring drugs into the facility through the mail.

Inmates will now only be able to receive emails through a kiosk. There are exceptions for medical and religious mail.

"I was locked up, I did five years," said Michael Hitchcock. "Getting a piece of mail from a loved one, man, it's just the highlight of your day."

Jail director Chad Wicker says staffers have confiscated several envelopes containing powerful painkillers.

"It's called a suboxene strip, a pain medication that comes in a patch form," said Wicker. "Our job is to make this a secure facility, and we think that's the best way to do that."

Wicker says people on the outside cut up the strips and place them inside the envelopes. It is a nationwide problem that forced DeSoto's jail to switch to email.

With email, loved ones can send pictures and messages instantly. Family members of former inmates say it is not the same as a handwritten letter and do not think it is fair that a few have ruined privileges for the rest.

"We would send mail every two days. I would take his letter and read it and write one and send it the same day," said Trayce Suggs, whose husband was in jail. "Everyone's suffering because of a certain amount of people that's doing it. Punish the ones that's doing it and the ones that's not, let them continue to get their letter."

Inmates can also send handwritten letters out.

Some wonder if the decision violates civil rights. When asked should DeSoto County be concerned about possible litigation, An Ole Miss constitutional law professor provided the following statement:

"Of course, it is possible for prison or jail inmates to raise challenges to restrictions on their mail, but the governing law tends to be very deferential to the government, in light of the obvious security issues involved. Even the ACLU acknowledges in offering advice to prisoners that ‘prisoners' First Amendment rights are far more limited than those of non-prisoners.' "

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