The Minnesota Department of Corrections is experimenting with a new way for friends and family to communicate with inmates in two Minnesota prisons.
During a six-month pilot project, inmates at Oak Park Heights and the Shakopee women’s prison will be able to receive electronic messages sent through a vendor at less than the cost of a first-class letter.
DOC Deputy Commissioner David Crist said messages are received and printed in the prison mail room, then distributed to the offender.
“I want to stress that it’s a one-way program. Emails come into the mailroom–not directly to the inmates–and the offenders then have to respond in a more traditional way: by telephone or the mail,” said Crist.
Prison staff monitor snail mail for contraband like drugs and white powder that may require an emergency response. Electronic messages wouldn’t carry that risk.
After six months, the department will determine whether to expand electronic messaging to the rest of Minnesota’s correctional facilities.