MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) announced Wednesday it is partnering with a company to start photocopying the personal mail of all adults in its care due to the growing problem of drugs being sent through the mail.
Officials say DOC has seen an increase of drug incidents among adults in its care, including increased use of K2 and other synthetic cannabinoids, which have no odor and is difficult to detect. Paper and envelopes can be sprayed with or soaked in these drugs, DOC says. The paper is then sent into DOC institutions through the mail, where some persons in DOC care tear it into small strips, and use it or sell it to others, according to officials.
Synthetic cannabinoids can cause violent behavior or serious medical distress that may require emergency medical treatement.
“Our agency’s mission and core values include protecting the safety of our staff and those in our care, and that is what’s driving this decision,” said DOC Secretary Kevin Carr. “By stopping the original pieces of paper from entering the institutions, we can greatly reduce the amount of drugs coming in and create a safer environment.”
DOC had 182 drug incidents in its facilities in the month of September, with 16 of them resulting in persons in DOC care needing emergency treatment at a medical facility.
According to DOC, personal mail will be sent to TextBehind, which will do the following within 24 hours of receiving it: open the mail, photocopy the envelope and contents, and send the photocopies to DOC institutions for delivery. TextBehind will make color copies of photos and drawings.
“The amount of copying is too much to ask of DOC staff, so we decided to work with a vendor,” said DOC Division of Adult Institutions Administrator Sarah Cooper. “Also, hiring a group that specializes in this type of work should minimize any issues with the photocopies.”
Officials say TextBehind will be required to hold the original mail for 30 days after receipt. Those with a concern about their photocopied mail will have 14 days from receipt of the mail to file a complaint. Holding the original for 30 days gives TextBehind the time and opportunity to address any complaints.
Wisconsin DOC will begin the new practice on Dec. 6. Starting on that date, anyone sending personal mail to persons in DOC care will have to mail it to TextBehind, making sure the address on the envelope includes the information below:
PIOC full name (first and last) and DOC #
Correctional Facility name (do not abbreviate)
P.O Box 247
Phoenix, MD 21131
There is no added cost. Legal, medical and other protected mail are excluded and should not be sent to TextBehind.
Family and friends also have the option to electronically send letters, greeting cards and drawings to their loved ones thorough the TextBehind website or the free app for smartphones.