Why should a prison have this system?

The idea behind this solution is more than just to have a technical way to send letters in an out of prisons. The solution we offer was designed to support attempts to reduce reoffending and to give back to the prisons with real savings and operational benefits.

Supporting re-offending reduction

“The process of offender release and re-entry is more likely to be successful if it is structured and contains effective rehabilitative elements. These include the ability to have maintained regular contact with a wide number of their friends and family for the duration of their incarceration.” Communication is an essential part of prisoner rehabilitation and a key driver behind the development of this solution. Traditional method of contact include visits, phone calls and writing letters but each of these has severe limitations in terms of maintaining regular contact.

Other “electronic” mail solutions typically allow mail to be sent into the prison but don’t have any reply facilities – so is this really meaningful communication? In this day and age there is also a trend for communication to be shorter but more frequent.

All these factors came together in conceptualising this system that enables fast regular communication. Letters can be sent into the prison and the offender can reply to them too.

Technology without the threat of technology

A concern with electronic mailing facilities is that they put technology that may be abused or subverted in the hands of the offenders. With this system the benefits of technology are used to deliver letters to and from the mail room. The offenders themselves never get hold of the technology. The receive printed letters and write outbound letters no paper. So there is no concern of computers, internet connections or wi-fi and other networks in the prison blocks.

Real benefits for the prison

In crafting this solution we try to understand the pressures that are applied to prisons each year and look for ways to ensure that it offers real benefits to the prison as well. We believe that our solution provides unparalleled levels of support for the prison in terms of assisting in security and operational processes and in real savings for the prison. More detail on this is discussed in the right column.

Reducing the carbon footprint

Every letter send by mail has a small carbon footprint. The accumulation of the thousands of letters sent through the year becomes a significant number. Using this technology to remove the logistics component of letter delivery provides another way for your prison to contribute to reductions in climate impact.

Reduce the cost of free letters

E-Postman currently provides the cheapest way to send a letter in or out of a prison in the UK. Sending a letter costs just 30p. While this price is cheaper for offenders and people writing to them, it can also almost halve the cost that the prison pays for free letters. That is halving the cost of 52,000 or more letters in a prison with 1,000 offenders.

Reducing abuse of the free letter process

Prisons give each offender a free letter per week (and two for remand offenders). This process is hard to manage and there is regular abuse of offenders sending many more than their designated free letters at the prison’s expense.

The e-Postman system uses specific letter stationery which the prison can use as a control to manage the free letters. The system also have reporting facilities that can be used to reconcile the letters send by each prisoner.

Sterile incoming mail

Because incoming letters are printed in the prison, they are sterile. This means that there is no way that drugs or other contraband can be included in the letter.

An additional benefit is that there also cannot be allowed contents like money or photographs that can double staff to monitor and log – which reduces the effort spent per letter in the mail room.

Parameterised mail sorting

The system can sort mail based on the recipient and the written content of the letter and these parameters are controlled by the prison staff. Letters found to be suspicious are sorted into a separate print queue for easy identification for further checking.

Letter translation

If an incoming letters is written in a language other than English it can be translated on the system. This can be done after printing so if a letter is selected for review, the letter can be accessed in the system and machine translated from its native language to English.

Reporting

The system provides a wide range of reporting functions on the letters that are sent into or out of the prison. These can be organised by dates or timeframes and by senders and/or recipients and access to them can be granted to any computer in the prison.

Archiving

Letters can be archived to review for a period after they are sent. The archiving period will only be up to that which is allowed by law.