Jail again changes mail policy following lawsuit
MARSHALL CO. — Inmates at the Marshall County Jail are able to receive letters in envelopes again, after two sued the jail over a “postcard policy” in April.
The policy, which began April 1, restricted inmates’ mail to only postcards — no letters allowed except for approved correspondence from mental health professionals or ministers. According to Marshall County Sheriff Tom Chamberlin, the policy was for the safety of his staff as several letters had been sent to the jail containing dangerous or illegal materials. Inmates filing suit, however, claimed that the policy was a violation of their civil rights.
“We have employees that have to be very careful opening the envelopes,” said Chamberlin to Marshall County commissioners in April, continuing, “We’ve had a variety of solutions (found) on the envelopes.”
This lawsuit was recently resolved with an agreement between the inmates’ attorney, Kenneth Falk of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, Chamberlin, and Chamberlin’s attorney A. Howard Williams to again allow regular mail into the jail.
“It is understood that the Marshall County Sheriff and other Sheriffs in the state of Indiana will continue to look for ways to provide a safe environment to county employees and reduce incidents of contraband entering the jail facility through the mail,” said Chamberlin in a written statement Wednesday.
A new mail policy, effective May 18, requires all incoming mail to meet certain standards. Items prohibited in jail correspondence include: stickers, unknown substances, discolorations, adhesives, powders, glitter, U.S. currency, mechanized or battery operated devices, newspaper or magazine clippings, and books or book pages. If mail does have to be confiscated because of a violation, inmates will be given a mail confiscation notice.
Chamberlin also noted that Falk would waive any claims for attorney fees since the case was resolved.