Mail Rules for Prison Inmates

Updated on 2/14/2023

None of us know what situation we are going to face in our lives in the future. Probably the most unfortunate incident would be the incarceration of your loved one.

It could be your friends or family members. Things are relatively easier if you know the prison where your friend or family member is. Whatever may be the case, keeping connected  by mail or  by phone is a great way to feel good even in these trying times.

There needs to be a connection between a prison inmate and an attorney. This kind of mail is treated as confidential by the Department of Corrections and

Rehabilitation, provided that all conditions are met. The  Legal mail facilities for inmates  provide them:

  • With a right to communicate with their attorney or a law court. This correspondence is known as legal correspondence.
  • The mail that comes from the office of an attorney has to include the name of the attorney as well as the name and address of the law firm he is associated with.
  • Any mail coming from a court of law must have the source clearly indicated on the envelope.  
  • No mail sent to or received from anybody on the approved visitor list can be treated as legal correspondence. This is treated as general correspondence.
  • The outgoing correspondence to the attorneys and courts must have the official designation of the addressee. If it does not meet this requirement it will be treated as general mail.
  • The most important requirement is the Legal mail stamp to identify it.

The Rules that Govern Inmate Mails

Any mail that is sent by an inmate undergoes stringent checking under  Inmate mail rules . Such mails are inspected by the staff but the inmates are also provided assistance in sending mails.

The outgoing mail, marked as legal correspondence is not read by the staff but before sealing it is inspected for contraband in the presence of the inmate to determine that it has only legal paperwork.

Following this the inmate seals the mail and signs the legal mail label. The Unit staff must also mark the envelope as approved and put his details on it before forwarding it to the mailroom.

The inmates who have insufficient funds or are on the indigent list can be eligible for eight mailings which are paid for and they must submit a special mailing request along with the correspondence to avail of this assistance.

According to the Inmate mails rules and regulations the facilities make no exceptions to the acceptance of certain items when you are sentenced to the state prison.

  • Postage stamps and stamped envelopes not exceeding twenty
  • Five personal letters
  • Wedding bands of a certain value but no stones
  • Receipts, address books, business cards
  • Legal books and materials
  • One writing tablet
  • Religious medal but no stones
  • Medical devices, aids and prosthetics which have been checked by medical staff
  • The facilities will not accept:
  • Any mail when not sent through regular postal service
  • Cardboard plastics and laminated matter
  • Photos, colors, writing, symbols related to a gang
  • Drugs
  • Paper clips staples and glitter
  • Any items that have suspicious stains or markings
  • Letters or envelopes with stickers on them
  • Photographs without name and Personal File Number at the back

Receive All Mails by following Rules

Since  every prisoner has the right to legal aid the  Legal Mail Facilities ensure that any mail between an attorney and an inmate is treated as confidential.

However, potential hazard has to be taken care of. The mail that is sent must not instigate the prisoner to violate any of the CDCR rules. There should be no metal included in any mail sent to an inmate. If any such metal is found then it will be removed in the presence of the inmate.

The mail from an attorney cannot be used for general correspondence which is unrelated to legal representation. The attorney must dissuade this as also send any correspondence which is to be forwarded to another person.

Any such mail is to be returned to the inmate or destroyed and the attorney will decide whether it will be returned as confidential or non-confidential mail. This needs to be communicated to the inmate.

The CDCR considers any such action of forwarding a mail as abuse of the legal mail privilege.

As far as newspapers, periodicals, and books are concerned, they have to come directly from the publisher. An attorney cannot send a book or magazine to help his client pass time.

Providing self addressed pre-stamped envelopes prevents economic bargaining which possession of postage stamps in excess may incur.

 The parties are made aware of their entitlement to confidentiality of communications and there is no reason why they should claim lack of knowledge about how they must mark their mail to ensure confidentiality.

To avoid any problem it is best to mark the mail as “confidential” The same marking applies for transcripts and these should be sent through service providers who give a tracking number.

 A prison litigation coordinator can be approached to sort out any confusion about the regulations.

It is best to enclose a receipt with details for the client to sign. A self-addressed, stamped envelope should accompany the same.

In spite of all the restrictions a little care to follow rules ensures that the inmate receives his due rights. All said and done, every prisoner has the right to communicate with his attorney or law firm to ensure that the legal process is taking place correctly.

Since the inmate is informed of what his rights are with regard to mail there should be no problem unless the inmate is being defiant. A lot of responsibility lies with the attorney to ensure that his client is not breaking the rules.

There are many ways to be guided into sending mails and the inmates receiving them. Get in touch with  Pigeonly . To be guided as well as to facilitate that your inmate does not feel lost and unassisted while they are in prison. That is not one of the best situations to be in.