Episode 22: Why PA’s prison system is changing mail policies. Again.

PA Corrections Department settles lawsuit, agrees to halt unprecedented drug-safety policy of copying and storing inmates’ legal correspondences.

  • Katie Meyer/WITF


The commonwealth’s prison system just settled a federal lawsuit over mail policies in its prisons. It’s a big win for public defenders and nonprofit groups that represent inmates, and it’s a milestone after months of controversy and speculation about a raft of new security measures the Department of Corrections put in place last fall.

To understand exactly what happened and what it means, we’ll bring you back to late August, when the DOC suddenly locked down all its prisons for almost two weeks after a spike in reports of staff falling ill from exposure to smuggled drugs.

We’ll explain the legal complexities that surround incarcerated people’s legal correspondences, and we’ll hear from an ACLU lawyer and the state corrections secretary—two people with very different perspectives on what exactly is happening in the prisons.

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