New Jail Mail Policy: Postcards Only

Beginning September 1, inmates will no longer be allowed to receive letters in jail, only postcards and email

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department announced Friday that beginning September 1, local inmates will no longer be allowed to receive letters from loved ones in the mail, only postcards and email.

The new jail mail policy is aimed to help promote safety by limiting contraband such as drugs and weapons from being smuggled into jails via envelopes.

So, come next week, incoming letters postmarked after Sep. 1 will no longer be accepted at seven jails across the county. They will be returned to sender, the sheriff’s department announced.

The only exception to the new inmate mail rule is legal mail between an inmate and an attorney, courts and other law enforcement agencies. Those sealed letters will still be permitted.

Sheriffs said official mail sent directly from local, state or government offices will also be accepted, including mail marked "Social Security," "Veteran’s Affairs," "Child Support Services," "Unemployment," "Welfare" and "Probation," among others.

Even then, those letters will be thoroughly inspected for authenticity prior to delivery to inmates, officials said.

Although postcards to inmates are still allowed, sheriffs said there are very specific size regulations and standards on those.

Postcards mailed to inmates must be rectangular, at least 3.5-inches high by 5-inches long, but no larger than 4.25-inches high and 6-inches long.

Alerted or layered postcards – such as two cards taped together – will not be accepted. Also, postcards marked with paint, glitter, labels, stains, crayon and cosmetics, such as lipstick marks or perfume, will not be delivered to inmates.

Sheriffs said photo postcards will be accepted, as long as they follow the aforementioned rules.

Inmates are still allowed to write letters from jail, as sheriffs said that policy has not changed.

Notifications about the new jail mail rules have been posted in cell modules and jail lobbies, officials said.

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