Handmade Drawings & Pictures Now Welcome in New Hampshire Prisons

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

Handmade drawings and pictures bring joy to the lives of prisoners. New Hampshire Department of Corrections finally gets that.

Handmade drawings and pictures bring joy to the lives of prisoners. New Hampshire Department of Corrections finally gets that.

While the new mail policy allows pictures and drawings done in pen and pencil, those made from the following materials are still prohibited:

  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • Colored Pencil
  • Glitter
  • Chalk
  • Stickers

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

Prison letters are important to inmates and fighting recidivism.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.

Melanie Macinas holds a BS degree in Computer Science. She found her passion for writing when she took a content writing position for a BPO company. In 2011, she started her freelancing career as a writer and since then has successfully completed several writing projects for US/UK clients. She now writes news stories for prison loved ones on the Prison Rideshare Network.