January 13, 2015

Mail in Federal Prison

At 3:00 pm, each weekday, the blue mail cart rolls across the compound and signals the arrival of today’s mail. All of the mail in the cart has been pre-screened by prison personnel. As the cart arrives, a number of prisoners crowd around the corrections officer hoping to hear their name called as he sorts through the mail box.

To a bored prisoner, Mail Call can be the highlight of the day. Getting your hometown paper or your favorite magazine guarantees several hours of meaningful activity. Better yet, a card or letter from a family member or a friend can make your whole week. Knowing that someone in the real world took the time to write and think about you is a very satisfying experience.

Prisoners also receive “legal mail ” which is sent by their attorneys or the Courts regarding their case. This mail is picked up at the administration building by the prisoner. The Prisoner must be present when the Prison official opens the letter to insure that nothing out of the ordinary is contained in the envelope. Legal Mail is not read by the Prison officials.

Lately, a number of prisoners (drug sentences) are receiving “sentence reduction” letters from their attorneys and/or the courts based upon recent amendments to the sentencing guidelines that reduce the sentencing range for various drug offenses. You can see the utter elation on a drug prisoner’s face when he hears his name called over the intercom for legal mail. Many of these prisoners have been waiting patiently for many months to receive notices that their sentence has been reduced, and that they are going home earlier than expected. That is obviously a very good day in prison!

If you know someone in federal prison, drop them a note. I can assure you that your simple gesture will make their week!

Ken Flaska

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