In this Oct. 4, 2018, Pennsylvania Corrections Department mail inspector Brian Strawser sorts inmate mail at Camp Hill state prison in Camp Hill, Pa. Pennsylvania prison officials say new mail handling procedures and other changes appear to have helped address a spate of incidents this year in which correctional officers and other staff have sought medical treatment believed to be caused by exposure to synthetic marijuana that was smuggled into state prisons.
Katie Meyer was WITF’s Capitol Bureau Chief from 2016-2020. While at WITF, she covered all things state politics for public radio stations throughout Pennsylvania. Katie came to Harrisburg by way of New York City, where she worked at Fordham University’s public radio station, WFUV, as an anchor, general assignment reporter, and co-host of an original podcast. A 2016 graduate of Fordham, she earned several awards for her work at WFUV, including four 2016 Gracies.
Katie is a native New Yorker, though she originally hails from Troy, a little farther up the Hudson River. She can attest that the bagels are still pretty good there.
WITF's Capitol Bureau Chief Desk is partially funded through generous gifts made in the memory of Tony May through the Anthony J. May Memorial Fund.For more information about Tony May, click here.
(Harrisburg) — Pennsylvania’s prison system is updating its mail policy–the latest in a long string of security changes.
But while many of those changes prompted concern among inmates’ rights groups, they’re welcoming this one.
Starting this week, people incarcerated in state prisons can receive photo books–the kind that can be designed and ordered online. They have to be soft-bound and hold 25 pages or fewer, and must be sent to prisons directly from a third-party manufacturer.
The Corrections Department’s been routing almost all inmate mail to a processing facility in Florida since September–a process that began after a rash of drug smuggling scares.
The mail is returned to Pennsylvania as a copy. And since the new procedure began, there have been complaints that the quality is sometimes so bad, pictures are useless.
Miracle Jones, of the Abolitionist Law Center, said this is a big improvement–though the group isn’t thrilled inmates’ loved ones will have to spend more to send photos.
“It’s still incarceration,” she said. “It’s still industry being involved in communication, and that’s always going to give us pause. But it’s still a win for so many people, and so we celebrate this win with them.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections said they are still looking for a way to improve mail scans.