Sheriff’s office defends postcard rule for county jail

A new policy requires nearly all correspondence into the Cache County Jail be conducted using postcards and in response a Mormon bishop and three inmates have sued the county. “This is not something we just pulled out of the air,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Matt Bilodeau, “our policies and procedures are based on law. There is no case law that says we can’t use these postcards. This has been challenged in court and has been upheld. It is being used throughout the country.” He said the motivation behind it is to limit the amount of contraband that gets into the facility. “Also, it helps to reduce the amount of time we’re spending having to peruse those letters to see if there is anything illegal or inflammatory, anything like that.” The suit claims the mail policy, imposed in February, “severely restricts prisoners’ ability to communicate with outside clergy. “We are not denying this bishop contact with an inmate. The bishop has two other ways of communicating with the inmate. He can do it by phone and we also allow clergy visits. We allow them on Saturday or Sunday from 9 am to 9 pm. We have to limit it to 30 minutes. It allows for 100 visits in that time period and we have 300 inmates in the facility.” Bilodeau said changes in policy always spur objections, even when inmates are given more privileges. He said these inmates have gone through the grievance process in this case. “Again, we aren’t denying communication, we are only restricting, on the written part, how it is done. That’s all we are doing.” He said the policy also limits correspondence to two postcards a week. “That is because we are dealing with a four or five-inch stack of postcards coming in every day and a similar volume going out, even under the new policy. They all have to be perused.” He said the jail is reaching out, attempting to allow more communication to be done. “I think within about six to eight months we should be in a position to offer e-mails for these inmates and their families across the country. Then all we have to do is look at the content.”

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