Prisoners in New Hampshire can now get handmade drawings and pictures in the mail again.
In 2015 the state’s Department of Correction issued a ban in an effort to prevent Suboxone from being smuggled into the prison. Officials had found small amounts of the drug hidden in drawings or pictures sent to inmates.
But a settlement reached in a lawsuit this week, now allows inmates to receive drawings and pictures made in pencil and pen. But markers, crayons, glitter, chalk and stickers are still banned.
Ned Sackman, the lead lawyer in the lawsuit, said the previous policy infringed on the prisoners’ and families’ first amendment rights by cutting off an important mode of communication inmates had with their children.
“When you are on the inside and you receive an authentic communication from a child – that’s just something that can keep you going for a month or two months,” Sackman said. “Just to receive something like that where you are isolated and cut off from your loved ones – it’s just critically important.”
This federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of a prisoner’s mother and 3-year-old son. His homemade drawing to his father saying “I Love U Daddy” was returned because it violated the mail policy.
“They are still people – they still have rights, certainly they are more restricted than the folks on the outside but the constitution applies to everybody,” Sackman said.
Over the past year, the number of prison inmates testing positive for drugs in New Hampshire has gone down. DOC officials have attributed that decline, in part, to the mail policy.