Mail policy changes at Michigan prisons

Prison letters changes

GRAND HAVEN, MICH. - Gone are the days of handmade holiday cards or perfume on a love letter for an inmate. The Department of Corrections is cracking down on its mail policy. 

"We probably get 5-10 letters a day," Doug Tjapkas said. Tjapkas is the founder of Humanity for Prisoners and works around the clock fighting for their rights.

"We're helping them with issues like healthcare, substance abuse, mental health abuse," he said. 

And the latest? Mail regulation.

The Michigan Department of Corrections posted an announcement on their website, alerting people of changes in the mail they will allow into the prison. On that list of restrictions included mail with perfume or lipstick on it and mail written in marker, crayon, or paint.

"It just said, 'I love you' on there real big. 'I love you Uncle,'" Ms. Bond said. The local woman did not want to be physically identified but says a letter her granddaughter wrote to her son, was returned.

"She didn't understand like, 'Why'd they send my letter back?' she wondered" Bond added. "And it's contraband -- I don't understand what kind of contraband you put on a colored piece of a paper but apparently they have some."

"We immediately contacted the front office of the Michigan DOC because we wanted an explanation and they explained about the drug problem," Tjapkas said. 

Tjapkas says the prisons have seen an issue with drugs making their way into the prison system via mail.
Like Suboxone strips, a dissolving  strip used to treat those addicted to pain medications. But Tjapkas says some of the new regulations just don't add up.

"I'd like to know what is the issue with the crayon," he said. "Exactly what it has to do with getting drugs in the system. We don't get that explanation yet and its been very vague so far." 

Tjapkas says he will continue to work with the DOC to get a clearer explanation on some of these policy changes. 

The DOC mail policy changes will go into effect October 1, 2017. 

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