New Hampshire prisons are now allowing prisoners to receive handmade drawings and pictures from their loved ones, especially from their children.
This is thanks to a new mail policy that transpired following a legal settlement between civil libertarians and the New Hampshire Department of Corrections (DOC).
The good news was announced by the New Hampshire branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Limitations of New Mail Policy within New Hampshire Prisons
New Policy Allows Handmade Drawings & Pictures
While the new mail policy allows pictures and drawings done in pen and pencil, those made from the following materials are still prohibited:
- Colored Pencil
Prisoners’ loved ones, however, can photocopy artworks made from these materials and send them to inmates.
Other thick paper stock products such as greeting cards are still banned.
ACLU said the new prison policy is similar to those implemented in other prisons throughout the US.
Previous Mail Policy Infringed Prisoners’ and Loved Ones’ Rights
In 2015, state prison officials banned all hand-drawn materials in its bid to thwart Suboxone — an opioid marketed in thin strips — from being smuggled into prison. Small amounts of the drug were found hidden in pictures or drawings sent to prisoners.
Ned Sackman, lead lawyer in the court case, said the former mail policy violated the detainees’ and families’ first amendment rights as it took away an important means of communication between the inmates and 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. Just to receive something like that were you are isolated and cut off from your loved ones – it’s just critically important.”
Gilles Bissonnette, legal director of ACLU-New Hampshire and co-counsel on the case, commented:
“We do not doubt that Suboxone has been a problem in New Hampshire’s prisons. But banning all drawings is not the answer.”
The Lawsuit That Made It All Happen
ACLU filed the federal lawsuit in 2015 on behalf of a prisoner’s mother and 3-year-old son. The child’s handmade drawing for his imprisoned father was returned due to mail policy violation.
Rejected drawings of a 12-year-old son were also part of the case. Handmade drawings are not threatening, especially when they are from prison kids.