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Privileged or legal mail to state prisons must now have qualified control number

Harrisburg, PA – For added security, any mail received at state prison that is supposed to be treated as “privileged” must now control a control number given to only qualified senders, such as mail that comes from the court system for inmates.

Regular mail can still be sent to an inmate by anyone without a control number, simply by using the prison’s Smart Communications system.

Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary John Wetzel announced the expansion of safety protocols aimed at limiting entry points for contraband through incoming legal or privileged mail via the court system.

As of March 1, 2021, all mail received at any State Correctional Institution that is to be treated as privileged must contain a control number issued in advance to qualified senders by the DOC, including mail from courts.

“While we face the challenge of mitigating COVID-19 in our prison system, we must still contend with drugs, substance use disorder and the security threats caused by contraband,” said Wetzel. “We are putting commonsense precautions in place that do not further limit the freedom of those in our custody, while ensuring their safety and the safety of our staff.”

This change comes in response to a recent incident involving mail sent to the DOC purportedly from the court system. The mail was used to introduce a substance known as K-2, or spice, into SCI Dallas, and two corrections officers were exposed to the substance and required treatment at an outside hospital.

The control number process that has been in place for over a year was required for attorneys sending legal mail to inmates, but not the courts.

A control number can be obtained by a court or qualifying entity quickly and easily by following the instructions found at https://privilegedmails.cor.pa.gov/#/. As always, regular mail can be sent to an inmate by anyone, without a control number, using the Smart Communications address and following the instructions on our website: https://www.cor.pa.gov/Pages/Mail.aspx