A group of people with hundreds of rejected holiday cards have launched a protest in Pittsburgh against the state’s prison mail rules.
A dozen protestors gathered on the sidewalk outside Gov. Tom Wolf’s office in Downtown Pittsburgh Monday to demand changes to the state’s system for delivering mail to inmates. The group carried hand-painted cardboard signs and a box they said was filled with about 500 holiday cards that inmates at Allegheny County were unable to receive
The protesters claim the holiday cards were mailed well before Christmas but were never delivered. Ronna Davis volunteers with a regional chapter of the Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration, an advocacy group that works against life sentences without parole. The box of holiday cards was returned unopened. A move that Davis and others say reflects the ongoing issues with the state’s new mail delivery policies.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, any current mail sent to state inmates is no longer delivered directly to prisons. Instead, mail must be sent to Smart Communications, a company in Florida that has workers who scan each piece of mail and send it digitally to Pennsylvania prisons, where it is then reprinted and the copies are delivered to inmates.
The new lengthy procedures were put in place late last year in an attempt to stop
“Our loved ones cannot receive their Christmas cards,” said Cynthia Thomas, whose brother, Vincent Harp, 56, is serving life without parole. “They don’t have much to look forward to, but they look forward to their mail. A Christmas card can do a lot.”
The volunteers put the
“It shows the Department of Corrections is not in charge of their own policies,” Mr. Grote said Monday. Amy Worden, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections, said Monday that the DOC will work with Smart Communications and advocates to “find a system where mail can be delivered safely and expediently in the future.”
On Monday protesters called on Wolf to deliver the holiday cards to the inmates, apologize to the intended recipients and end the contract with Smart Communications, among other demands.
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