LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) announced in Washington, D.C., that he introduced legislation on Friday designed to reduce the contraband that gets into prisons.
The bipartisan bill from Horsford and U.S. Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) would establish a pilot program in federal prisons tto test a solution without restricting inmates’ rights to receive postal mail.
Contraband including drugs, weapons and cell phones often make it through to prisoners via mail.
The pilot program calls for pre-screening mail in a secure facility that doesn’t compromise the privacy of communications.
A summary of the legislation says: “The solution will process and authenticate postal mail in a secure facility and then ship to the final destination, eliminating the risk of contraband; prescreen postal mail digitally in advance of its arrival from a secure, web-based dashboard; allow attorneys to send verifiable legal mail directly from their law office protecting attorney-client privilege, and must not require additional equipment or change to current mail process or infrastructure.
“The United States has the highest incarceration rates in the world, with 2.3 million people held in prisons or jails. The mail service is one of the oldest and most commonly used methods to introduce contraband into correctional facilities, creating an expensive and often lethal problem for both inmates and correctional facilities staff,” Horsford said.
“I’m proud to introduce the Contraband Elimination and Safety Act of 2021 with Congressman McKinley to protect access to the mail system for incarcerated people while giving prison officials a safe alternative to mail restrictions that prevent inmates from communicating with the outside world.”
Studies have shown that inmates who maintain close contact with their family members while incarcerated have better post-release outcomes and lower recidivism rates.
An estimate indicates each prison could save about $4.6 million if the pilot program proves to be effective.