Filed under: Action, Announcement, Incarceration, Midwest, The State
Since November 1st, 2017, the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) has been enforcing a draconian and restrictive mail policy. This policy makes it extremely difficult for prisoners to communicate with loved ones and supporters outside of the prison walls.
The reasons for the change in policy are many. Despite the MDOC’s claims that the policy aims to curb the influx of drugs into the prisons, those on the front lines of the fight point out that the vast majority of contraband is actually smuggled in by employees. They argue instead that the policy change is related to the larger trend towards privatization, both within and beyond the prison walls. More restrictive mail policies, for example, mean more prisoners will pay to use J-Pay, a private service that is also more easily surveilled and monitored.
As capital and the state rattle and roll through the current crisis they have to find new ways to administer and police what they consider the most dangerous class – those who have been made “surplus” and locked up in the warehousing system we call Departments of Corrections. The move away from mail and towards J-Pay should be seen as part of the larger trend to extend the existing surveillance within the prisons. Additionally, this mail policy not only further restricts access between prisoners and their families, it also hampers communications between prisoners and organizers working in solidarity on the outside.
Corrections administrators across the country have been trying to implement similar mail policies over the past few years. But prisoner resistance and outside popular support have, in some cases, been able to defeat these attempts.
Towards that end, we are organizing a call-in campaign on February 1st. In solidarity with calls from prisoners inside, we are putting the MDOC on notice that this new policy will be met with opposition both inside and outside the walls of their prisons. This call-in campaign marks just the beginning of a longer fight against this repressive policy.
On Thursday, February 1st, Please Call MDOC Director Heidi Washington At:
Here is a Sample Script:
Hello, may I please speak with Director Washington?
[they ask who is calling, say she is not available, you can demand to speak to her directly]
I’m calling because I want to speak to someone about the new MDOC mail policy and express my opposition to this outrageously repressive measure. The new mail policy makes it much more restrictive to communicate with loved ones and friends outside and it should be reversed immediately.
[you can choose from any of the following points to emphasize]
– Prisoners deserve access to a variety of mail from their loved ones. Banning drawing from family members is cruel and unfair.
– Some mailroom employees are using the new policy to throw out publications like newspapers and magazines. They are using the wording of the new policy to censor publications that they don’t want to pass on to prisoners. This is illegal and the new mail policy enables it.
– The MDOC already had a process for searching envelopes. There is no need to throw out every envelope. This makes it much more difficult for inmates to communicate with their loved ones and friends outside.