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Wisconsin DOC changes how inmates receive mail following drug incidents

Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 6:35 PM CDT
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MADISON , Wis. (WEAU) - The Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) is taking action after it said there’s an increase an increase in drugs coming into prisons through mail.

Drugs are coming in on paper, literally.

The DOC said it’s seeing an increase in synthetic cannabinoids, such as K2, being sprayed on envelopes and the mail inside them.

The DOC’s Division of Adult Institutions Administrator Sarah Cooper said the increased drug activity’s caused Wisconsin’s prisons to change how it receives mail.

“Personal mail will no longer be sent to the institutions. Instead it will be sent to a third-party vendor and this vender’s title is TextBehind,” she said. “And what they will do is receive the mail, open it, scan it, print it and send the copies back into the institutions.”

Starting Dec. 6, people will send personal mail to inmates to TextBehind. They will address the mail to the inmate, their DOC number, the facility and TextBehind’s address, P.O. Box 247 Phoenix, MD 21131.

Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Travis Holbrook said drugs are a problem in his facility too.

“People have gotten very creative over the last couple years in how to get certain drugs through either by soaking the envelopes, the paper, the glue on the back where you lick to seal the envelope,” he said. “We’ve also seen suboxone strips that have been placed between birthday cards or Christmas cards.”

Holbrook said the jail has not yet seen paper or envelopes soaked in drugs.

He added the jail is not changing how it receives mail.

Cooper, however, said the drug problem in Wisconsin’s prisons has made these facilities too dangerous.

“We have had situations where people who consume these drugs have become very combative,” she said “We have had people who have gotten very very ill, they’ve gone into seizures. It’s incredibly dangerous.”

Cooper said in September and October, there have been more than 300 incidents in Wisconsin prisons involving drugs. More than 30 inmates have been rushed to the ER due to drug-related incidents. Not all incidents were caused by drugs smuggled in on paper but it has become a common problem.

Cooper added the new policy will not cover privileged communication, like those between an inmate and their attorney. That mail should still be sent directly to the prison.

The new policy also won’t affect juvenile facilities according to the DOC.

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