For the safety of everyone who spends any time in a secure Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) facility – offenders, visitors and staff – TDCJ’s contraband policy is changing to help keep our prisons safe for all.
The Inspect 2 Protect program introduces new regulations for offender mail, revises canine and personal search procedures and changes how offenders can receive funds. These new Inspect 2 Protect policies go into effect on March 1, 2020.
These policy revisions are not punitive but are needed to allow for detection and interdiction of easy-to-conceal drugs and technology.
The fight to eliminate contraband has always been fundamental to sound prison management. In prison, contraband becomes a kind of alternative currency and simple issues like an unpaid debt can easily lead to threats, extortion and even physical assault. When contraband involves synthetic drugs like K2, it takes only one small dose for the user to suffer seizures, permanent disability and, in some cases, death.
In 2019, offenders received over 7.5 million pieces of mail.
Approximately 3,500 letters per month have an uninspectable or suspicious substance.
Offender mail procedures will be changed as follows:
- Offenders will only be allowed to receive mail from general correspondents on standard white paper.
Mail received on coloured, decorated, card stock, construction, linen, or cotton paper will be denied.
- Letters sent to offenders may not contain uninspectable substances such as perfume, stickers, lipstick, bodily fluid, powdery substances or artwork using paint, glitter, glue, or tape.
- Offenders may only receive greeting cards directly from an approved third-party vendor.
- There is no restriction on the length of incoming or outgoing correspondence; however, a limit of 10 photos will be allowed per envelope.
TDCJ encourages electronic messaging to reduce the entrance of contraband:
- In 2019, offenders received approximately 3.5 million pages through electronic messaging, including 1 million attachments.
- The Snap n’ Send program allows family and friends to take a picture and send it through the JPay app.
In 2019, offenders received nearly 900,000 photos.
In an effort to increase staff and offender safety, the following procedures will be implemented:
- Certified narcotic canines will be used strategically to detect narcotics and synthetic marijuana on visitors entering facilities. Searches on staff have already been implemented.
- The individual the canine alerts on will not be allowed to visit any offender that visitation cycle (visitation cycle – that weekend). If a certified narcotic canine alerts on a child visitor, all adult visitors accompanying the child will not be allowed to visit any offender that visitation cycle.
Incidents of alerts will be documented.
In 2019 there were approximately 2,300 incidents of marijuana, illegal drugs, and/or K2 reported at facilities systemwide.
Only persons on an offender’s visitation or OTS call lists may deposit funds or make Ecomm transactions.
Wave Millimeter Scanners will be deployed at a select number of high contraband units.