People who have become accustomed to sending letters to friends and relatives in the adult detention center will have to get used to something different April 1.
On that day, both incoming and outgoing mail will be restricted to blank postcard style paper, and no picture or photo postcards will be accepted at the Jefferson County jail.
Assistant Jail Administrator Major Tyra Tyler said the change is being made for several reasons. Topping the list is reducing the possibility of contraband getting into the facility.
“We’ve found tobacco, green leafy substances believed to be marijuana and activation codes for cell phones in letters addressed to detainees,” Tyler said. “In one case, we found tobacco in an envelope like an attorney would send, marked legal mail.”
Tyler said officials caught that one because while the name of the attorney on the envelope was real, the address was not.
She said the jail receives more than 50 pieces of mail each day, and all that mail has to be screened before it can be passed out to detainees.
A second reason for the change is to reduce the costs associated with mailing letters for detainees.
Currently, the jail provides two sheets of paper and two envelopes to every detainee in the jail every month, and pays for the postage to mail two letters each month.
“Our postage runs $480 a month, and when the postal service goes up, it affects us,” Tyler said.
Beginning April 1, detainees will receive three postcards a month, as well as the postage to mail those cards, and additional postcards can be purchased through the jail’s commissary program.
“Nobody likes change but we’re not the only facility to go to postcards instead of letters,” Tyler said. “This is something the detainees and their families are going to have to try and adapt to.”
While envelopes containing letters only will not be allowed, Tyler said families and friends of detainees who have been sending envelopes containing money orders so that detainees could make purchases through the commissary program will still be allowed.
“If they include a letter in that envelope, it won’t be delivered, but if they put in a card, the detainee will still get that,” she said.
The delivery of legal mail that is clearly marked will not change, Tyler said.