General Order 77.6

Last Revised: 03-01-2017


This order consists of the following numbered sections:

77.6.1    Inspecting mail

77.6.2    Legal mail

77.6.3    Incoming mail

77.6.4    Outgoing mail

77.6.5    Indigent mail

77.6.6    Restricted mail

77.6.7    Administrative restrictions

77.6.8    Mail delivery

77.6.9    Mail records

77.6.10    Returned mail

77.6.1 Inspecting mail

Assigned support staff shall open and inspect non-legal incoming and outgoing inmate mail for contraband or restricted items. Support staff shall visually scan non-legal inmate correspondence for criminal activity or threats. Staff shall not disclose contents of inmate mail without a recognized and legitimate penological reason. Corrections staff may impose disciplinary sanctions when inmates attempt to violate the mail policy.

77.6.2 Legal mail

Corrections staff shall open and inspect incoming mail clearly identified as legal mail (defined as mail from attorneys, prosecutors, judges, government officials/offices, or courts) in the presence of the inmate. Corrections staff may visually scan legal mail to check for contraband and verify authenticity. Staff shall not read legal mail without a court order. Incoming and outgoing legal mail will be documented in the Legal Mail Log. The log entry will contain the date, name of the inmate, name of the legal professional, and signature of the staff member delivering the mail. Staff will allow inmates to send and receive privileged mail without restriction and without jeopardizing the operational and penological interests of the facility.

77.6.3 Incoming mail

I.    Incoming mail will be delivered promptly. Assigned support staff shall remove stamps, adhesive address labels, and staples from all incoming mail. Other unauthorized items will be removed and placed in the inmate’s property. Staff shall forward mail containing threats, plans of escape, contraband, or communication with prohibited parties to a jail sergeant for follow-up.

II.    Mail containing contraband will be returned to sender and both the intended recipient and the sender will receive a copy of the completed Notice of Withheld Material form. Staff shall not accept packages for inmates unless they fall into the category of legal mail or publications under sections 77.6.2 or 77.6.3.

III.    Bulk-rate “junk mail” may be refused and discarded.

IV.    Standard rate mass publications sent by non-profit organizations may not be restricted without a legitimate penological interest.

V.    Publications are allowed unless the content or size of the material is a threat to the safety or security of the facility. Publications with sexually explicit or inflammatory content will be placed in the inmate’s property. Books must be paperback and will only be accepted directly from or Barnes and Noble unless otherwise approved by the Jail Manager. If a publication is rejected, notice will be sent to the sender as well as the inmate regarding the reason for rejection.

VI.    Staff shall accept and process incoming certified or registered mail on behalf of the inmate.

VII.    No “over the counter” mail will be accepted for inmates, except for mail from those within the criminal justice system (e.g. prosecutor, courts, attorneys).

VIII.    Inmates may choose to opt out of receiving incoming non-legal mail. If mail is received for an inmate who has opted out, it will be returned via the postal service.

77.6.4 Outgoing mail

Outgoing mail will be processed promptly. Corrections staff shall accept unsealed envelopes from inmates. Assigned support staff shall inspect outgoing mail to ensure compliance with law and mail rules as defined in Section 77.6.6. Staff shall ensure that outgoing mail has the return address of the jail and the full name of the inmate printed legibly on the envelope. Handmade envelopes are not allowed. Envelopes marked with obscene or offensive drawings or messages will not be allowed. Inmates housed in the Olympia City Jail cannot send or receive mail to/from inmates in the Olympia City Jail, although a jail sergeant or Jail Manager may approve correspondence between legally married inmates. Assigned staff will work with the mail department when inmates demonstrate the need to mail legal materials in non-standard sized envelopes. Staff shall notify the inmate anytime an outgoing piece of mail is rejected. Inmate notification shall be made by returning the mail and advising of the reason for the rejection.

77.6.5 Indigent mail

Corrections staff shall provide writing materials to inmates. There is no limit on the number of outgoing mail pieces.

77.6.6 Restricted mail

Staff shall not interfere with or restrict mail without a recognized and legitimate penological interest. The following restrictions will apply to incoming or outgoing inmate mail:

I.    Items defined by law as illegal.

II.    Sexually explicit materials as defined by WAC 137-48

III.    Inmate to inmate correspondence

IV.    Mail which threatens illegal activity

V.    Mail with unknown substances

VI.    General correspondence disguised as legal mail

VII.    Mail containing cash or checks, postage stamps, stickers, CD’s, DVD’s, and Polaroid-type photos

VIII.    Mail containing correction tape, fluids, crayon, metal clasps, staples, lipstick, glitter, stains, perfume, glue, adhesives, stickers, rubber-inked stamps, labels, or batteries

IX.    Ribbons or bookmarks attached or included with publications will be cut away and discarded.

X.    Mail which violates a court order

XI.    Items not allowed in the jail

XII.    Mail depicting or describing blueprints or operation detail of an existing facility’s security devices (e.g. locks, electronics, facility grounds/buildings, etc.)

XIII.    Mail written or appearing to be written in code

XIV.    Maps or charts of any kind

XV.    Mail in a foreign language with contents not understood by the inspecting staff, after reasonable efforts have been made to interpret

XVI.    Publications which have been altered after publication (e.g. pages or portions of pages removed, extraneous markings, etc.)

XVII.    Mail containing markings of gang symbols or symbols of other groups which may be thought to perpetuate violence

XVIII.    Mail without an identifiable author/sender

XIX.    Outgoing mail addressed to an individual or his/her guardian who has previously received unwanted mail from the inmate and has complained or asked that mail from the inmate not be sent.

XX.    Outgoing mail which does not specify the intended recipient

77.6.7 Administrative restrictions

A jail sergeant may authorize restrictions of incoming or outgoing mail when the correspondence is deemed to be a threat to the legitimate penological interest of the facility. The jail sergeant shall provide written notification to both inmate and sender identifying the reason for the restriction and advise both of their right to request a review. Staff shall accept a written request for review within ten days of notice, and the Jail Manger will review the restriction and respond within 10 working days from receipt of the request for review.

77.6.8 Mail delivery

Corrections staff shall allow inmates to have access to the United States Postal Service and place no restrictions on the allowed number of incoming pieces of mail. Staff shall process incoming and outgoing mail in a timely manner and shall not accept mail addressed to inmates who are no longer in custody, marking them “return to sender.”

77.6.9 Mail records

The jail Manager or designee shall be responsible for maintaining a continuous chronological record of all incoming and outgoing mail. The record shall reflect:

I.    The quantity of incoming and outgoing pieces of mail

II.    Rejected incoming and outgoing mail:

A.    The intended recipient

B.    Date received

C.    Reason for rejection

D.    Name of sender

III.    For legal mail (in addition to the above):

A.    Name of legal professional

B.    Signature of staff member delivering the mail

77.6.10 Returned mail

Assigned support staff shall open and inspect for contraband all undelivered mail returned to the facility by the post office before returning it to the inmate. The purpose of this inspection is to determine if the content originated with the inmate sender identified on the letter or package; to prevent the transmission of restricted items; and to determine that the mail was not opened or tampered with before its return to the facility. Any returned legal mail will be opened and inspected in the inmate’s presence. In the event that mail is returned for an inmate who is no longer in custody, the mail will be forwarded to the last known address for that inmate. (per WAC 137-48)