Return to sender: Mail restrictions enacted due to spike in contraband

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Incoming suboxone strips a problem for NH prisons forcing mail restrictions.
Incoming suboxone strips a problem for NH prisons forcing mail restrictions.

CONCORD, NH – In an effort to cut down on increasing contraband entering the state prisons through the U.S. Mail, the New Hampshire Department of Corrections Commissioner William L. Wrenn announced new mail restrictions, effective May 1.

As of May 1st, all incoming mail for inmates must be on standard stock stationery or standard stock plain post cards. Correspondence must be written or typewritten in ink or pencil.  No greeting cards, unusually thick stationery, or postcards featuring any type of printed design or picture shall be used.  Mail shall not exhibit drawing, stickers or other depictions.  Any mail that violates this change will be returned to sender.
NH State Prison
NH State Prison

Wrenn called this “an unfortunate but necessary change” due to the rise in drug-related contraband (in particular, Suboxone strips) entering the prison that can be hidden in these cards and drawings.  Suboxone is a medication for people who are addicted to opiates; it is illegal unless prescribed.

“Our mailroom has experienced an increase in cards, postcards, and other postal material containing Suboxone, in the hopes that a few will get past security.  Often the return addresses on the cards or letters are false,” Wrenn said.
In some instances mail has been sent to unknowing inmates with arrangements made by other inmates to retrieve the mail or possibly threaten or harm the recipients if they do not cooperate.
The technology needed in the mailroom for detecting drugs is cost-prohibitive, as people employ more innovative ways to seal the drugs into the cards, post cards, and crayon-layered drawings. The best way to discover this contraband is by manually scanning the hundreds of letters, books, magazines, periodicals, and cards that are received daily.  This would require the use of additional staff that is not available in the Department.
Inmates can still receive photographs and letters that include birthday or holiday greetings.
CommissionerWrenn said, “We did not make this decision lightly but, until affordable alternatives are evident to us, we must stand by it.”

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Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!