Illegal Mail Hampering in South Carolina RHU

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[Censorship] [Civil Liberties] [South Carolina]

Illegal Mail Hampering in South Carolina RHU

To Whom It May Concern,

Pursuant to the South Carolina Constitution, Article I, Paragraph 2, Religious Freedom, Freedom of Speech, Right of Assembling and Petition, “The General Assembly shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government or any department thereof for a redress of grievances . . .”

Pursuant to South Carolina Department of Correction (SCDC) policy PS-10.08 Inmate Correspondence Privileges, September 6, 2022, “6.1.9 Inmates in RHU and SSR will not be allowed to receive newspaper/magazine clippings/crossword puzzle pages/photocopies of books, or information printed from the internet mailed in while they are housed in RHU/SSR”. Per SCDC policy OP-22.38 RHU.paragraph 8.1 “Mail will be delivered on a daily basis excluding weekends, holidays; and emergencies . . .”

The South Carolina Dept. of Corrections Current Mission Statement quoted as follows: “Protect The Public, Protect The Employees, Protect The Inmates”

Current SCDC policies, procedures, and practices serve to create an environment in direct conflict and opposition with their Mission Statement. Furthermore, SCDC’s Mission Statement should be expanded to include educational and rehabilitative goals. The entire system needs to be restructured to meet all the needs and goals effectively and efficiently. “Protection” is just one of many needs.

Mail Censorship and Mail delivered to Restricted Housing Unit inmates daily

The mail system currently in use at the Broad River Facility and throughout SCDC is a disgrace to The United States Postal Service. The persons employed in the mail room are not properly trained. Violating Federal Law with regard to delay, tampering, theft, and destruction have become commonplace. The people employed in the mail room have been charged with the task of screening the mail for contraband material. This function is clearly necessary and must continue. However, the staff in the mail room make a habit of exceeding their authority and the inmates have little recourse.

While institutional policies imply that all inmates will have ample access to send and receive mail, inmates housed in RHU (segregation) are limited to what we can receive in the mail. Inmates’ mail is constantly being violated by the officials in RHU. Officers can be found reading inmates’ mail, pass out mail late, and only once a week. As of September 6, 2022, RHU inmates no longer can receive “newspaper/magazine clippings, information printed off the internet, etc”. The updated policy does not give RHU inmates an explanation as to why we no longer receive certain mail.

On July 1, 2009, SCDC removed The United States Postal Service receptacle for outgoing mail from the yard, thus interfering with inmates ability to communicate with family, but also interfering with access to the courts, and communication with attorneys. On this date, inmates were instructed to give their outgoing mail to their dorm Lieutenant, (“The dorm Lieutenant is not authorized to handle mail”) most inmates fear giving their mail to unauthorized persons.

SCDC on September 6, 2022 changed section 6.1.9 to the Inmate Correspondence Privileges Policy. Inmates before this date were allowed to receive “5 newspaper/magazine clippings per envelope, information printed off the internet and photocopies of books.”

The policy change to section 6.1.9 do not explain why RHU inmates no longer can receive such items in the mail.

Pursuant to Hustler Magazine, Inc. V. Falwell, 495 US 45,46,108 sct 876, 832, “The government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable . . .”

Pursuant to Jones V. North Carolina Prisoners Labour Union, 433 US 119, 97 sct 2532 (1977), “Fact of confinement and needs of the penal institution impose rational limitations on prisoner free speech rights . . .”

My hope is that you have received this report with an open and inquisitive mind.

BRSF 4460 Broad River Rd. Columbia, SC 29210