News Article
July 28, 2020


*New modified procedures at prison prevents inmates from receiving personal letters and other general correspondence.

*Prison claims illicit drugs are being sent in through the mail to enact new procedures.

*To ensure safety and security of the prison, staff, and inmates new policy is being adopted.


Otisville, New York --  The warden of the Federal Correctional Institution Otisville, J. Petrucci, issued a memo to the inmate population today enacting a new local policy that will effectively cut off all original letters and other general correspondence from being received by the inmates.  According to the memo there is a threat to the safety and security of the prison staff and inmates due to narcotics and other controlled substances being sent in through the mail.  The new policy will photocopy all letters and envelopes and these copies will be forwarded to the inmate.  The original material will be destroyed after 30 days unless the inmate, at their own expense, requests to have the material mailed home.  This new policy is slated to go into effect on August 3rd.


          "The introduction of narcotics and other prohibited controlled substances through the mail continue to pose a threat to the security of FCI Otisville, NY and to the safety of staff and inmates."  --J. Petrucci, Warden


Inmates across the nation have already experienced a separation from family and loved ones when in-person visits were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  Even though this new policy has been rumored for some time it didn't lessen the blow to inmates who depend on their connection with their mothers, fathers, children, spouses, sweethearts, friends, and spiritual leaders, among others.  Although the inmates are being provided with "photo copies", it just is not the same as the real thing for them.  Often, letters take on the scent of the writer which enhances the connection, closeness, and memories for the reader.  The ability to touch something that was known to be handled by a loved one can be emotionally supportive.  Seeing one's child's drawing can invoke parental pride and strong feelings.  Letters can be profoundly personal in many ways, many of which we usually don't think of or take for granted.  By providing simple photo copies of these valuable items, and then destroying them robs these people of their intimate connections.


Contrary to popular belief, much of the illicit drugs and contraband that are introduced to our nation's prisons do not come in through the mail or visitation, but through the prison guards themselves who will bring in just about anything for a fee.  Prison administration will not admit to this or acknowledge this publically.  Putting blame on the inmates serves their own agenda as the "thin blue line" of self protection also extends to prison staff.  In addition, framing the inmates as dangerous and the purveyors of ongoing crime helps the prison administration's continued requests for higher wages, additional staff, and greater budgets in order to protect society from those so called "dangerous evil villains".


Taken at face value this new policy may sound reasonable, however, it can have a much deeper impact to the continued dehumanizing tactics of the prison system.  If the purpose of prison is to rehabilitate and make a better citizen to reenter society then putting a deeper wedge between those very people and their families and loved ones is not the answer.  Prison systems must focus more on education, training, and preparedness for reentering society than on supposed security issues of their own making.  As Victor Hugo once said, "He who opens a school door closes a prison", but is that what the prison industrial complex really wants?