Updated: Dec 13, 2021
Starting on October 18th, 2021, any mail sent to someone in a North Carolina prison will be scanned and reprinted before being delivered*. The N.C. Department of Public Safety has partnered with a Maryland-based company called TextBehind, which processes mail for prisons and jails in several other states including Colorado and Pennsylvania.
Here's how TextBehind works:
1. All offender mail (paper and electronic) is addressed and delivered to TextBehind.
2. TextBehind uses a scanner to make digital files of the contents of the mailing—including cards, photos, and/or artwork. The original documents are then destroyed.
3. All digital files are then forwarded to the inmate’s assigned prison
4. The prison mailroom prints approved pages and delivers them to the inmate
TextBehind offers two different ways to send mail:
1. TextBehind offers an app for smartphones and computers. You can download the app and upload your own scans. Each scan costs 49 cents. TextBehind states they will process these within one business day.
2. If you prefer to send mail through the postal service, you will need to address it to the TextBehind facility in Maryland.
a. You must write out the inmate’s name and their opus number. You will then need to write out the name of the prison they are located at (do not abbreviate) and write P.O. Box 247 Phoenix, MD 21131.
b. It should look like this: Inmate Name and Opus Number Name of Prison P.O. Box 247 Phoenix, MD 21131
c. Any mail that is not addressed this way will be returned to the sender.
The N.C. Department of Public Safety states they are making this change to reduce the volume of drugs and other contraband entering prisons, but prison advocates are concerned. Advocates have spoken out about concerns regarding privacy issues, the quality of scans, the disposal of mail, and the potential negative impact on incarcerated individuals’ mental health through the loss of social and emotional connections from written mail from loved ones while in prison.
*Legal mail, including case files and court documents, can still be sent to the prison facility directly by an attorney or legal organization. Such mailings will need to be clearly marked as legal mail and will be inspected by Prison mail handlers at the facility.
Researched by Crystal Poole, NC-CURE Intern