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PLN wins preliminary injunction against San Diego jail over postcard policy

NBC San Diego, May 19, 2015.


San Diego Jail Reversing Postcard Size Only Mail Policy

Judge orders postcard-only policy to be suspended by May 21

By Lynn Walsh

Published at 9:30 PM PDT on May 18, 2015

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is being ordered to reverse its postcard-only mail policy by the end of this week.

In an order from United States District Court Judge James Lorenz, the sheriff’s department is asked to “suspend enforcement of the postcard-only policy for incoming mail” by May 21.

The order comes after Prison Legal News filed a lawsuit against the County of San Diego, Sheriff William D. Gore and others in October 2014. The lawsuit claimed the policy violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

The sheriff’s department introduced the new postcard-only mail policy in September 2012. When in place, local inmates were no longer allowed to receive letters from loved ones in the mail -- only postcards and email. There was an exception for letters coming from attorneys and legal counsel.

At the time, the sheriff’s department said the policy was aimed to help promote safety by limiting contraband such as drugs and weapons from being smuggled into jails via envelopes.

A spokesperson for the sheriff’s department, Jan Caldwell, said the agency is “the process of reinstituting the mail procedures we had prior to the postcard-only policy.” Click here to read the prior policy.

Prison Legal News is a monthly publication sent to prisoners and law librarians in over 2,000 correctional facilities across the country.

The postcard-only policy resulted in the agency refusing to deliver Prison Legal News to San Diego County jails, according to the lawsuit.