Thanks for the letter and the Feedback pamphlet. I was the first person to receive the new April edition and it has been a hot commodity with everyone wanting a chance to read it. As for me, I’m doing okay, just waiting for court dates for things to progress a bit faster. Trying to be as patient as possible.
By the sounds of things, the IOA and the volunteers have been very busy this past month. I wish I could have been present for the debate with Michael Page and Major Martin to hear their responses and the appropriate actions they are taking to everyone’s concerns regarding the jail. I will say that after March 15 and for the past two weeks we have been receiving hot meals for dinner instead of cold bologna sandwiches, which has us all a bit shocked. For the past 5 months it always been cold sandwiches and all of the sudden hot meals. I have no doubt it’s because of inmate petitions, IOA and the volunteers and the protesting in front of the jail. It seems like we are making some headway and things are starting to change.
I had a lengthy conversation with one of the CO’s this past week. We were discussing the IOA and he told me that the Sheriff is starting to make changes and the food is not the only change to come. Hopefully this is true and we will see here shortly.
There are plenty of things I could go into detail about but one of my concerns now is with the mail. I have had recent problems with both outgoing and incoming mail. In February I was notified by my family that my mail was opened and taped shut. From that point on I started to secure each envelope so that if it was tampered with, it would be noticeable. Again my family notified me that my mail continued to be opened. The jail is only supposed to open outgoing mail if there is a threat to security or order of the jail and have probable cause to do so. My mail should not be subject to this and there should be no probable cause to repeatedly open my mail. Also, I am not being notified that my mail is being searched. I questioned the mail services here regarding the issue and the only response I got from Mrs. Walker is that she doesn’t deal with outgoing mail and it being opened or searched. Still today, I’m unsure why my mail was opened and searched.
Now, incoming mail is a similar problem. Recently, I have been receiving scanned and printed copies of a national geographic magazine. I was notified that magazines are contraband and my mail would be returned. What I am receiving is not a magazine but what is similar to an article printed from the internet. So now my mail is being censored and I am not allowed to receive National Geographic articles. How is this contraband? How can this possibly cause any threat or harm to the jail? The only thing I can do is write a grievance to appeal their action to send my mail away and prevent me from receiving it. Though it has been over a week and the sergeant has yet to reply to any of my concerns or problems.
Lastly, my family has also sent me bookmarks and puzzles in the mail. I know this because they specifically mention them in the letters. However, they are nowhere to be found within my mail. This means that whoever is inspecting mail is taking these items out before giving me my mail. Again, this is an example of them censoring mail. What bothers me is they do so without your knowledge, without notifying you that they removed items from your mail. There is no mention as to why it was censored or how it violates any regulations or policy. I’m almost certain that if the jail censors your mail you should be notified of their actions so you are given the appropriate time to appeal that action.
So to answer your concern about mail from the IOA; I wouldn’t be surprised if incoming mail is being screened and censored or just blocked from being delivered, especially from IOA. Much of the staff here do not like being within the newsletters or on the website to begin with. Though, nothing is certain and it seems that I’m receiving your letters without difficulty.
Again, thanks for the letter and newsletter. I look forward to hearing back from you and the IOA. We do get to go to the “Library” every week or so and of course there is always a very limited selection. I would never turn down an offer for a book, and I’m certain that many inmates here would also like it too. Books are consistently shared among the Pod, especially if it is a good read. My favorite authors are ____________ and ___________. So far I’ve found “__________,” “__________,” and “__________” here in the library by ____________ and have read them. I’ve also read “__________” and “__________” series by ___________. I’m sure there are plenty of other books by these authors. However, do not feel obliged to purchase any books, but of course it would be much appreciated.