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Yolo County Sheriff's Office

Service Without Limitations

Inmate Mail Policy

YOLO COUNTY DETENTION DIVISON
SHERIFF OFFICE POLICY MANUAL

TITLE: MAIL HANDLING POLICY NO. T-100

EFFECTIVE DATE: February 26, 1997

REVISION DATE: January 11, 2002

AUDIT DATE:

June 4, 2007

POLICY: To maintain an orderly flow of incoming and out-going mail in accordance with U.S. Postal Service regulations and California Code of Regulations Title 15, Sections 1063, 1066. Correspondence shall be handled in a consistent, efficient and humane manner, while ensuring the security and safety of the facility, staff and other persons.
REFERENCES:

California Code of Regulations Title 15, Sections 1063 and 1066

Procedure

Incoming Mail:

All incoming mail is inspected and forwarded to the inmates on a daily basis. Incoming mail, which has been determined to be unacceptable, shall not be placed in inmate property. When incoming mail is determined to be unacceptable, it will be returned, in its entirety, to the U.S. Postal Service to be returned to sender. If unacceptable mail cannot be returned to sender, the U.S. Postal Service will place it in their Dead Letter File.

Unacceptable mail, which had been sent “bulk rate” and is undeliverable, will be destroyed or disposed of. Detention facility staff shall log all unacceptable mail. Inmates will receive written notification that incoming mail was determined to be unacceptable.

If mail is received for an inmate who has been released, and/or is no longer in custody, the mail will be returned to sender, if possible. If the mail cannot be returned to sender, the U.S. Postal Service will place it in their Dead Letter File. If the U.S. Postal Service returns mail to an inmate who is no longer in custody, the mail will be destroyed or disposed of by detention staff. Detention staff will not cancel subscriptions. Forwarding address information will not be given out.

All incoming mail must include the following or it shall be determined to be unacceptable and shall be returned to sender:

  1. The return name/address information written on the front of the envelope.
  2. The sender’s name and a return address. First name initial is okay. Note: Gang monikers are not acceptable and shall result in the mail being returned back to sender marked “insufficient return name.”
  3. The inmate’s complete name (first and last) that was used at time of booking. Gang moniker is not acceptable and nicknames are not acceptable and shall result in the mail being returned back to sender, marked “insufficient name” or “undeliverable as addressed”.

All incoming mail shall be opened and inspected by the detention staff. Incoming mail shall be scanned to identify any security violations, threats, and to verify that the contents are acceptable. The only exception will be mail labeled “Legal Mail” and clearly identified as being from state and federal courts, any member of the State Bar or holder of any public office, and the Board of Corrections; however, detention staff shall, in the presence of the inmate, open and inspect such mail to verify that it is legal in nature and to search for contraband, cash, checks, or money orders.

Acceptable incoming mail may include the following:

  • U.S. Postal Service money orders. No other type of money order shall be accepted. Mail containing other types of money orders will be rejected. Money orders dated more than one week prior to receipt shall be rejected. U.S. government checks will be accepted.
  • A reasonable number of photographs. Nudity, and/or obscenity are not allowed.
  • Newspapers, magazines, periodicals and softbound books, which are sent directly from a publisher or Internet web site. Note: this does not include retail bookstores or private individuals. No hard-back books will be accepted unless approved by the Jail Commander.
  • There is no limit to the total amount of acceptable mail an inmate may receive. However, inmates may only have three books in their cell and the State Fire Marshal restrictions limit the total volume of paperwork an inmate may possess.

Unacceptable incoming mail includes, but is not limited to, mail containing any of the following:

Anything which may be classified as contraband. Contraband is defined as any item defined as illegal by state law and/or detention policy, and/or any property which has not received prior approval for acceptance by detention staff, is not issued, is altered or is in excess.

Examples of contraband include but not limited to:

  • Weapons, drugs and controlled substances.
  • Packages or envelopes containing property which is so excessive in quantity that it precludes adequate inspection, i.e., handout material, copies from books or magazines articles.
  • Oversize mail or cards
  • Hardback books
  • Polaroid photographs or any photographs which have been laminated or coated.
  • Any item which has been laminated or coated.
  • Obscene material. “Obscene material” is defined as any material whose predominant appeal is a shameful or morbid interest in nudity, sex or excretion, when taken as a whole, by a reasonable person. Nudity means a pictorial depiction where genitalia or female breast are exposed. The Jail Commander may approve or disapprove certain publications for appropriateness.
  • Material or photographs which are gang related, racially discriminatory, promotes or incites murder, arson, riot, violent racism, any other form of violence or illegal activity or which may compromise the security of the facility.
  • Stamps, stickers or items which are “gummed” or has adhesive on it. This includes return address stickers. If possible, detention staff will remove the sticker and forward the mail to the inmate.
  • Inkpad stamps or transfers.
  • Sealed envelopes containing additional correspondence.
  • Postage stamps, pre-stamped postal envelopes, blank envelopes, pen, personal checks and currency.

Outgoing mail

Outgoing mail is picked up, inspected and given to the U.S. Postal Service for delivery on a daily basis. Outgoing mail, which has been determined to be unacceptable, will be returned to the inmate. All outgoing mail shall be in standard white, business size envelopes, which must be purchased through the inmate commissary.

All outgoing mail shall include the following or it shall be determined to be unacceptable and shall be returned to sender:

  1. The return name/address information written on the front of the envelope.
  2. The inmate’s complete name (first and last) that was used at time of booking. Note: First name, initials, nicknames and/or monikers are not acceptable and shall result in the mail being return to the inmate.
  3. The following return address:
    Monroe Detention Center
    140A Tony Diaz Drive
    Woodland, California 95776
  4. All writing must be legible. Drawings, gang-related graffiti, artwork, etc. are not permitted, on the front of the envelope. Violations will result in the mail being returned to the sender.

Outgoing mail of a non-legal nature must not be sealed and will be placed in the U.S. Mail boxes in each housing unit. Outgoing non-legal mail shall be inspected by detention staff and may be scanned to identify any security violations: threats and gang related, illegal and/or any otherwise unacceptable material. It will then be sealed and picked up by the U.S. Postal Service for delivery.

Outgoing mail of a legal nature shall be inspected by the pod officer in the inmate’s housing unit and must not be sealed prior to that time. The envelope shall be marked “LEGAL MAIL”. The pod officer, in the inmate’s presence, will scan the contents. Upon verification of the legal nature of the mail, the pod officer will have the inmate seal the envelope in his/her presence. The pod officer will then initial the back of the envelope and place it in the U.S. Mail box in the housing unit. Outgoing mail marked “LEGAL MAIL” which is sealed and does not have the initials of the pod officer on the back of the envelope will not be accepted and will be returned to the inmate. Note: Inmates may correspond, confidentially, with state and federal courts, any member of the State Bar or holder of public office, and the State Board of Corrections and with the facility manager or the facility commander.

Inmate In-house Mail

The Monroe Detention Complex does not have an in-house mail system. All written correspondence between inmates within the facilities shall only be through the U.S. Postal Service. Inmates/staff shall not pass notes or make any exchanges with other inmates, outside their pod unit.

Pro-Per Mail

All outgoing mail being sent by an inmate that has obtained Pro-per status from the Court shall be handled similar to legal mail. It shall be inspected by the pod officer in the inmate’s housing unit and must not be sealed prior to that time. The envelope shall be marked “Pro-Per”. The pod officer, in the inmate’s presence, will scan the contents for contraband. The pod officer will then have the inmate seal the envelope in his/her presence. The pod officer will then initial the back of the envelope. Outgoing mail marked “Pro-Per” which is sealed and does not have the initial of the pod officer on the back will not be accepted and will be returned to the inmate.

Pro-Per mail will then be sent to the Programs/Commissary Officer for processing. The Commissary Officer will log all Pro-Per mail, including the date and who the letter is being mailed to, along with determining the cost of mailing each item and will record the monetary value in the Pro-Per inmate’s file.

Inmate Mail Complaints

All inmate inquiries, concerns or complaints must first be addressed verbally with the Pod officer. If there is a need for further review, a blue card shall be addressed to the Correctional Sergeant. If the Correctional Sergeant is unable to resolve the problem, the inmate may initiate the grievance procedure. All inquiries, concerns and/or grievances shall go through the chain-of-command.