Who may send and receive legal correspondence
Legal correspondence includes any correspondence between an inmate and a licensed attorney or a court of law.
- Mail from an attorney’s office must include the attorney’s name and the complete name and address of the law firm.
- Mail from a court of law must clearly indicate on the envelope that it is from one of these sources.
No one on an inmate’s approved visiting list is allowed to send to or receive from an inmate mail designated as legal correspondence; rather, it will be handled as general correspondence.
Outgoing legal correspondence to attorneys or the courts
To be processed as outgoing legal correspondence, an envelope must include:
- the name and the official status of the addressee, if the addressee does not meet the definition of one of the entities noted in the definition of legal correspondence, the mail will be handled as general correspondence
- the label “Legal Mail”
Staff inspection – Outgoing legal correspondence is not read by staff. However, before it is sealed, unit staff inspects legal mail for contraband.
- The inspection is done in the inmate’s presence. If the inspection determines that the mail contains only legal paperwork, the inmate seals the mail and signs the “Legal Mail” label.
- Unit staff marks the envelope as inspected/approved legal mail, adds the staff person’s name and initials, and forwards it to the Mailroom.
Postage assistance – Inmates who are on the indigent list or have insufficient funds to send legal correspondence may be eligible for eight paid mailings per month.
- Inmates seeking postage assistance for legal correspondence must submit a completed special mailing request with the correspondence indicating their need for assistance.
Incoming legal correspondence from attorneys or the courts
Incoming legal correspondence is not read by staff. To be processed as incoming legal correspondence, an envelope must have:
- a return address from a licensed attorney’s office or a court of law
- a stamp designating the correspondence as legal mail
Routing and staff inspection – Incoming legal correspondence is routed to the appropriate inmate’s housing unit or other location. Unit or facility staff opens it in the inmate’s presence.
- A staff member inspects the envelope and enclosed paperwork for contraband and to determine if the paperwork is of a legal nature.
- If the enclosed paperwork is of a legal nature, it is stamped as legal and the inmate initials the stamp indicating it was opened in his or her presence; the staff member also prints his or her name and initials the stamp area.
- If the enclosed paperwork is not of a legal nature, the staff member reviews the contents with a member of the unit management team and writes an incident report. The paperwork is sent to the security major for follow-up.
Contraband – If there is reasonable suspicion that a piece of mail contains contraband, the associate warden of security may authorize legal correspondence to be opened in a secure area outside the housing unit with the inmate present.