Wisconsin inmates’ mail will soon be photocopied to stop drugs being sent to corrections facilities

MADISON, Wis. — All adult inmates in Wisconsin correctional facilities will have their personal mail photocopied and delivered on fresh paper in an effort to reduce the prevalence of hard-to-detect drugs being sent to them, the state’s Department of Corrections announced Wednesday.

Citing an increase in the number of drug incidents among people in its care, the department said it will contract with mail management company TextBehind to copy all inmate mail beginning Dec. 6. The company will open, copy and send the mail to facilities within 24 hours.

“The amount of copying is too much to ask of DOC staff, so we decided to work with a vendor,” DOC Division of Adult Institutions Administrator Sarah Cooper said in a news release. “Also, hiring a group that specializes in this type of work should minimize any issues with the photocopies.”

In September alone, the department said it had 182 drug incidents in its facilities despite increases searches and other detection methods. Sixteen of those led to people needing emergency medical care.

Paper and envelopes can be sprayed or soaked with odorless drugs like K2 and synthetic cannabinoids and then used or sold behind bars. Those drugs can cause medical distress and violent behavior, DOC said in the release.

The new service will not cost inmates or those sending them physical mail additional money, though people will have the option of sending electronic letters, cards and drawings for a small fee. Protected mail and items like legal and medical mail are not subject to copying.

A similar pilot program at the Fox Lake Correctional Institution beginning in mid-April showed signs of success, the agency said.