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Incoming letters banned from local jail

MANATEE — Inmates at the Manatee County jail can no longer receive mail other than money orders and postcards no bigger than 4 by 6 1/2 inches, according to jail spokesman Randy Warren.

It is an effort to combat the influx of contraband sent by mail to inmates, he said.

“It is taking an incredible amount of hours to scour the letters we are getting for contraband,” Warren said. “It is not uncommon to find drugs or pornography hidden in letters in all kinds of inventive ways. We have continually asked for the public’s help on this and we continue to get contraband.”

The banning of letters went into effect Monday. The money orders, which inmates can use in the jail commissary, will continue to be searched for contraband, according to Warren.

Envelopes containing money orders must be marked as such and discipline could be in store if a mailer falsely marks an envelope as containing a money order to try to circumvent the new rules, Warren said.

“We will be coming up with some kind of remedy if that happens,” he said.

There will be no restrictions placed on inmate’s outgoing mail, allowing inmates to continue sending mail as they can afford to buy stamps, paper and envelopes in the jail commissary.

Warren said jail officials look forward to streamlining the mail room in the jail and allowing clerks to speed up getting mail to inmates.

“We think in the long run inmates will begin to appreciate this as they get their mail faster,” Warren said.

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