Genesee County Jail switching to scanned letters to prevent drug-soaked papers from reaching inmates

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Posted at 11:50 AM, Jan 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-21 11:50:40-05

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Mid-Michigan’s Genesee County Jail is ending traditional mail deliveries for inmates and switching to scanned images of letters to prevent drug-soaked papers from reaching inmates.

The county’s Board of Commissioners approved an amended contract Wednesday with Global Tel(asterisk)Link that will provide offsite mail scanning for inmates and add two years to the company’s existing contract to provide the jail with telephone and video visitations.

Sheriff Chris Swanson said work is now underway to install the kiosks inmates will use to read their scanned letters, and the mail conversion could be complete within weeks, The Flint Journal reported.

“This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Swanson told the commissioners.

He said Suboxone, which is used to treat opioid addiction, and methamphetamine are two drugs that can be turned into liquid form and transferred to paper, creating the potential for contraband entering the jail.

Drugs can be sprayed onto paper “almost a perfume but you can’t smell it,” said Capt. Jason Gould with the county sheriff’s department. Inmates then tear off pieces of the paper, ingest it and get high, he said.

“We can’t do anything about that except (with) this type of a system,” Gould said.

The Michigan Department of Corrections announced in 2020 that it would begin photocopying incoming mail and delivering photocopies only to prisoners due to an increase in drugs and contraband.