To Guard Against Drugs, County Digitizes Jail Mail

Shawnee County, Kan., is working to digitize most of the mail that jail inmates in the jurisdiction receive as part of an effort to keep them from getting paper letters infused with illegal drugs.

by Tim Hrenchir, The Topeka Capital-Journal / February 11, 2020
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(TNS) — Shawnee County, Kan., will digitize most of the mail its jail inmates receive in an effort to keep them from getting paper letters infused with illegal drugs.

County Commissioners Bill Riphahn, Kevin Cook and Aaron Mays voted 3-0 Monday to put that arrangement in place by authorizing the county corrections department to enter into a contract to receive "digital mail service" from Carrollton, Texas-based Securus Technologies, Inc.

Securus will take possession of the personal mail sent to the county's inmates, digitize those documents and make them available to those inmates within 24 hours on tablets the jail rents out to them, corrections department director Brian Cole told commissioners.

"We believe that this will enhance our security tremendously," he said.

Inmates will still receive paper copies of legal mail and authorized publications, neither of which will be digitized, Cole said.

He said his department faces a "major challenge" in terms of inmates getting mail from people who have liquefied illegal drugs such as K2 or methamphetamine, then used aerosol pumps to spray them onto letter paper, where they dry and can be ingested later.

The jail hasn't been scanning or digitizing any mail its inmates receive, Cole told commissioners.

Under the new arrangement, inmates will be able to access their personal mail digitally using tablets they rent out, Cole said.

Inmates who don't rent tablets will be able to access their mail at free kiosks provided inside the jail, he said.

The county will pay Securus $4 per month per inmate for digital mail service, Cole said.

The jail currently has an average daily population of 541, meaning the estimated cost for the first year will be $2,164 a month, he said.

©2020 The Topeka Capital-Journal, Kan. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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