In preparation for the upcoming holiday season and the UPAN Holiday Card Program, I called the Mail Room in Draper to learn about any new mailing rules or recommendations the prison has to expedite our incarcerated loved ones receiving their holiday mail. I spoke with Lynette, who was very helpful and informative. This information will apply to both Draper and Gunnison prisons. For county jails, this information may be a guideline, but if you are sending holiday cards to them, please make sure you know their rules as well.
In Draper, they have a staff of 8 in the mail room. During December, they can expect to sort and screen approximately 8,000 and sometimes up to10,000 pieces of mail. I did not call CUCF, but was assured the same rules and recommendations apply there.
In order to make this process go more smoothly for the mail room staff, which results in our inmates receiving their letters and cards more quickly, it will be helpful to be aware of and comply with the following restrictions and recommendations.
- Only plain bi-fold cards are accepted. No layers, including clear plastic cover layer, and no cards that have two pieces glued together. Sometimes the best place to find this type of card is at dollar stores. Hallmark seems to be mostly layers and glitter these days.
- No musical cards or cards with anything sealed within them.
- No glitter, and no cards with things glued on them. This includes glitter pens / ink.
- No stickers can be affixed to either the card or the envelope.
- Do not use crayon, markers, sharpies. Ball point pen is preferred and recommended.
- Seal the envelope the way it is intended to be sealed. Do not use scotch tape or decorative tape on the envelope or card.
- Do not include any blank envelopes or blank paper in the correspondence or it will be returned to you. The prison requires that any envelopes used by the inmates must be purchased through commissary.
- Do not use mailing envelopes with the plastic bubbles inside for padding.
- Sign the card. Cards without signatures will be returned.
The prison mail room staff are now required to examine underneath anything that is adhered to the envelope. That is because contraband can be underneath it. This includes stamps and any address labels.
- Write or type the return name and address on the upper left corner of the envelope rather than using adhesive return address labels. If address labels are used, they may be pulled back which can result in tearing.
- The mail room will tear the stamp off the corner of the envelope. This means they will tear the right hand upper corner of the envelope off. To reduce the damage to the envelope, please place your stamp in the far right top corner. Metered stamps (printed on the envelope) will not be torn off.
- White envelopes are preferred. While there is not an official restriction on colored envelopes, it is recommended we use white envelopes to cut down on processing time. The reason is that colored envelopes are supposed to be taken apart at the glued seams to make sure there is nothing hidden there. They can often see through white envelopes to make sure there is no discoloration or contraband. They cannot with colors (We were advised two years ago that the prison now must examine for drugs that may be dissolved and hidden in the seams of colored envelopes).
- If sending large envelopes, the prison recommends that rather than using the gold manila envelopes, use large white envelopes without a clasp. Clasps are glued onto the envelope so the mail staff will have to tear it off. This delays processing.
- If you are sending holiday cards in to inmates other than your own, you can sign your name or you can sign UPAN or both, whichever you prefer.
- MAIL EARLY. In past years, holiday cards have been delayed for weeks after Christmas or New Years due to the challenges for the mail staff to sort and screen. Each year it seems they have more tasks to do in order to screen the mail.
Following these rules and recommendations will contribute to our incarcerated loved ones receiving their mail in a timely manner during the very busy holiday season.