Censorship of Political Mail Justified by Digital Mail System

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[Censorship] [Political Repression] [Digital Mail] [Missouri]

Censorship of Political Mail Justified by Digital Mail System

I would like to make you aware of, and I seek your assistance, with what is transpiring here in the Missouri Department of Corrections (MO-DOC).

They have revised the mail policies again, and they are saying that the only postal mail accepted at correction centers are:

  • Privileged/legal mail
  • Certified mail
  • Publications ordered by an offender sent directly from a publisher, distributor or other bona fide vendor
  • Visitor applications

The problem is that they’re saying that if publications are not coming from a publishing company they need to be sent to the Digital Mail Center in Tampa, FL. And once sent there, the Digital Mail Center is not sending them and sending digital copies.

To sum this up, we are not receiving our free newsletters or digital copies of them. Unless we purchase something using a green check, they are not allowing it to enter the prison. This is a violation of our First Amendment rights, and the precedent set by Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 89-90 (1987). This is clearly established law that is being violated by the MO-DOC;s restrictive mail policies which need to be challenged. I seek your assistance on this.

MIM(Prisons) responds: According to the new policy on the MO-DOC website, MIM Distributors should be able to send prisoner literature directly at their prison as we have in the past.(1) But according to this comrade’s report, Missouri has effectively banned free subscriptions and free books to prisoners.

Staff at Pendleton Correctional Facility in Indiana recently tried to claim a ban on donated books, but comrades in Indiana and the Midwest Books Project took the issue up to the Indiana DOC who confirmed this is not their policy.

A combination of confusion with new complicated digital mail systems and staff engaging in political repression with “new rules” as an excuse, continue to keep comrades busy.

According to our data, some comrades have still received recent issues of Under Lock & Key in Missouri, though the numbers so far are down from last year. The problem is we need more information from readers in Missouri about what you have and have not received, and what your prison has told you when they’ve rejected our mail. We are currently investigating this matter with MO-DOC in hopes of clearing this up.

Recently ULK has been returned to use from Missouri with the following written on them:

“Return to Sender: Mail should be sent to the address specified at www.doc.mo.gov”

And an envelope of ULKs was returned and marked:

“RTS - Unauthorized”

As we go to press, we have not received any response from the MO-DOC to our March appeal of censorship of ULK 83. However, that same subscriber received ULK 84 fine.

1. https://doc.mo.gov/media-center/newsroom/book-orders