Letters sent to offenders should include:
The Offender’s Name, TDCJ Number and
Unit Address on the Envelope.
All mail addressed to offenders must be received through authorized channels.
Letters for different offenders should not be included in the same envelope.
Offenders are not allowed to correspond with other offenders without meeting specific criteria stated in Board Policy 03.91 – Uniform Offender Correspondence Rules (Section I.B.1).
There is no limit on the number of persons with whom an offender may write.
Mail is forwarded to offenders who transfer from one unit to another within TDCJ.
Letters will be forwarded to offenders who are released from prison, if the offender provides a forwarding address at his last unit of assignment.
Offenders may not write to minors whose parents disapprove, with the exception of an offender’s own children or stepchildren (unless the child or stepchild is the offender’s victim).
Unauthorized materials or contraband found in mail addressed to offenders will be rejected.
Individuals who carry out serious violations of the correspondence rules may not be allowed to write to an offender.
Newspapers, magazines and books may be mailed directly to offenders only by the publisher, publication supplier or bookstore; subject to review and rejection in accordance with the correspondence rules.
Offenders may receive reference books and other educational materials from volunteer organizations that operate the following types of programs: literacy and education, life skills, job skills, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, support groups, arts and crafts and any other programs designed to aid offenders in the transition between confinement and society.
Stationery (defined as white, undecorated paper, not to exceed the size of 8˝” x 11”, or unstamped white envelopes, including carbon paper and white envelopes with the offender’s commitment name and TDCJ number preprinted in the return address portion of the envelope, but excluding any paper with names, addresses or letterhead and excluding tablets or writing pads with stapled binding) may be mailed to offenders only from legitimate vendors or suppliers of stationery.
Items such as food, clothing, jewelry and toiletries may not be mailed to offenders.
Individuals may not mail packages to offenders.
Additional information is available on the
agency web site at
Inmate Mail Correspondence:
Due to national concerns related to mail, incoming correspondence that is intended for offenders, which contains powder or any granular substance will not be delivered to the offender.
Please do not place substances in or on correspondence that is mailed to an offender in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; the offender will not receive such mail.
^-TDCJ policies strictly prohibit Texas Prisoners from E-mail and Internet access.
^-At All Texas Prison Units, there is no mail delivery on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays.
^-Texas Prisoners are not allowed to correspond via mail with other Prisoners,
including Prisoners from other states unless they are related.
TEXAS BOARD OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE
(AUSTIN) -- The Texas Board of Criminal Justice today approved
Effective June 1, 2004, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) will begin operating under new procedures for both incoming and outgoing inmate correspondence. All changes in policy are consistent with the national standards outlined by the American Correctional Association. The following is a general overview of the changes approved by the board at its regularly scheduled meeting in Austin.
General Rules and Instructions Regarding Correspondence:
· Offenders are limited to putting their commitment name, TDCJ number, unit name, and current address on each outgoing item to prevent the disguise of the location from which their mail is being sent. Offenders may also place their legal name in the return address if it is different from their commitment name.
· Offenders may not draw pictures or write messages on the outside of their envelopes.
· Mailroom staff shall refuse to mail any item they reasonably believe will be deemed unmailable by the United States Postal Service.
· Victims are now specifically mentioned as restricted correspondents for inmates (victims are defined by the Texas Penal Code, Section 38.111).
Rules and Instructions Regarding Special and Media Correspondence:
· Outgoing special or media correspondence will be opened in cases where there have been known problems ("special correspondence" is defined as any official of any federal, state or local law enforcement agency, including offices of inspector general). The intent is to prohibit offenders from sending correspondence that seeks to threaten, harass or intimidate in any way (including anthrax hoaxes).
· Incoming special, legal and media correspondence will be searched for contraband and only in the presence of the offender.
Rules and Instructions Regarding the Handling of Offender Correspondence:
· Offender mail must be processed within 24 hours and packages within 48 hours. Weekends and holidays recognized by the U.S. Postal Service are not included in this time calculation.
· All sexually explicit images contained in publications or in offender mail will be considered contraband and prohibited.
o Sexually explicit is defined as "material that shows the frontal nudity of either gender, including the exposed female breast(s) with nipple(s) or areola(s), or the genitalia or anus of either gender. The chests of infants and pre-pubescent children are not considered breasts." This definition is consistent with the one used by most states in the 9th Circuit that has withstood challenges, and with the policy used by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
o This prohibition will be effective one year from the date of the approval of the Board Policy, giving offenders enough time to allow current publication subscriptions to expire, to terminate such subscriptions and to appropriately dispose of sexually explicit images already in their possession.
o Publications constituting educational, medical, scientific, or artistic materials, including but not limited to, anatomy medical reference books, general practitioner reference books and/or guides, National Geographic, or artistic reference material depicting historical, modern and/or post modern art era, may be permitted on a case-by-case basis.
o The intent of the new policy on sexually explicit materials is to encourage a rehabilitative environment for offenders and to discourage sexual harassment of staff.
Statistical Information Relating to Inmate Correspondence:
· All incoming general correspondence to the units is subject to search for content and contraband. These searches are done outside the presence of the offender. Prohibited items are confiscated at this point, and the offender receives a denial form for that portion of his correspondence he does not receive.
· Between March 1, 2003 and August 31, 2003, there were 9,787,751 pieces of outgoing correspondence and 9,989,414 pieces of incoming correspondence at all 105 TDCJ units (these figures do not include packages, books, newspapers, publications or free printed material).
· Between March 1, 2003 and August 31, 2003, the central mailroom office in Huntsville (also known as the Mail System Coordinators Panel), reviewed 2,231 publications to determine whether offenders should be permitted to receive them under agency rules. There are more than 10,000 publications which offenders are automatically permitted to receive, without review from the central office.
· TDCJ has a total of 537 positions statewide that are dedicated to the mailrooms. This figure does not include private facility staff or the central office staff, which has 13 staff members.
Quotes from TDCJ Executive Director Gary Johnson:
· "We believe these changes to the correspondence rules strike an appropriate balance between an offender's privilege to correspond with the outside world and our need to keep inappropriate mail from entering or leaving our units."
· "We strive for a more positive and safer environment for both staff and offenders. We believe the elimination of sexually explicit material helps us move in that direction."